December 8 marks safe harbor day, the day written into law as the deadline for states to resolve disputes about the winner of their electoral votes. That makes it another key date on Donald Trump’s road to accepting he lost.
Once states have certified their results by the safe harbor date, an 1887 law calls for Congress to accept those results—although Team Trump will keep fighting in court, and some congressional Republicans will try to challenge the results, dragging Trump’s attempted coup on through to January 6, when the electoral votes are officially counted. Before then, the next step toward binding President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the law will come on December 14, when the Electoral College votes.
A court case in Wisconsin may prevent the state from officially meeting the safe harbor deadline, though Gov. Tony Evers did certify the vote on November 30. But Wisconsin’s 10 electors will meet on December 14 to cast their votes, and by that time the court case may well have been dismissed or otherwise concluded against the effort to overturn the election.
“The arrival of the safe harbor date should effectively extinguish any dying embers of hope even for the last few remaining election denialists,” CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said. “And what an utter disaster—legally and otherwise—the Trump team's effort to contest the election in the courts has been.”
To be 100% clear, Team Trump plans to fight on, to enter into every possible fight (and continue losing virtually all of them). The goal at this point is not, realistically, to overturn the election. It’s to sow doubt about the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency, to keep Trump’s base believing that he fought for them, to keep them in a state of frothing rage that will benefit Trump’s desires for post-White House profit and ego reward.
This is safe harbor day. But Trump remains committed to denying safe harbor for U.S. democracy.