Understanding The Presidential Election Process in 2020: Powered by Polis: Center for Politics | Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University

What if enough state results get tied up in the courts to prevent a clear winner? What if Congress gets involved? From presidential concession speeches to Duke experts, we’ve assembled this list of resources for understanding the election process. Below is a collection of speeches, experts and multimedia content on a range of election material.


Adlai Stevenson (D) (1952)

Vice President Richard Nixon (R) (1960)

Senator Barry Goldwater (R) (1964)

Vice President Hubert Humphrey (D) (1968)

Senator George McGovern (D) (1972)

Gerald Ford (R) (1976)

President Jimmy Carter (D) (1980)

Governor Michael Dukakis (D) (1988)

President George W. H. Bush (R) (1992)

Vice President Al Gore (D) (2000)

Senator John McCain (R) (2008)

Mitt Romney (R) (2012)

Hillary Clinton (D) (2016)

Hertzberg, “The Concession Stand,” New Yorker (11/04/96)

“A Short History of the Awkward Concession Phone Call”


“Presidential Elections and Inaugurations,” National Archives

“Legal Provisions Relevant to the Electoral College Process,” National Archives

“What is the Electoral College?” National Archives

National Conference of State Legislatures, “When Absentee/Mail Ballot Processing and Counting Can Begin”

Merrefeld, “The Electoral College: How America Picks Its President,” Harvard/Kennedy School/Shorenstein Center

Congressional Research Service, “The Electoral College: A 2020 Presidential Election Timeline,” 

Siegel, “The Conscientious Congressman’s Guide to the Electoral Count of 1887,” Florida Law Review 

Kesavan, “Is the Electoral Count Act of 1887 Unconstitutional?” North Carolina Law Review 

Text of the Electoral Count Act of 1877

“Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2 and 3” National Constitution Center

Katz, “Elections and the Electoral College,” Prologue/National Archives 


Yoo, “How Donald Trump Defends Presidential Power,” National Review (08/04/20)

•Sunstein, “Responding to a Contested Election, Step By Step,” Bloomberg Opinion (08/31/20)

Sunstein, “Worried About A Disputed Election? Steel Yourself,” Bloomberg Opinion (09/01/20)

Harsayni, “The Democrats’ Dangerous Delegitimization of the Election,” National Review (09/03/20)

•Foley, “How to Know if the Election is Actually ‘Rigged,'” Politico (09/13/20)

Rutenberg, “The Attack on Voting in the 2020 Election,” New York Times Magazine (09/30/20)

•Bomboy, “The Constitution and Contested Presidential Elections,” National Constitution Center (10/05/20)

Rozsa, “Another Electoral College Nightmare: We May Face a Constitutional Crisis If Either Candidate Dies,” Salon (10/06/20)

Berman, “The November Surprise: What If Everyone Showed Up to Vote This Year?” Atlantic (10/07/20)

Douthat, “There Will Be No Trump Coup,” New York Times (10/10/20)

Montellano and Siders, ” How Biden Could End 2020 on Election Night …,” Politico (10/12/20)

Skelley and Rakich, “What Pollsters Have Changed Since 2016 – And What Still Worries Them About 2020,” FiveThirtyEight (10/13/20)

Finnegan, “Pennsylvania Could Hold Up Outcome of Presidential Election,” Los Angeles Times (10/14/20)

French, ” The Growing Danger of Political Violence Threatens to Destabilize America,” Time (10/14/20)

Yokley,“Democrats Preferred to Vote by Mail. But as Election Day Nears, More Say They’ll Head to the Polls” Morning Consult (10/15/20)

Enten, “How Early and Mail-In Voting Could Affect When We Learn the Winner of the 2020 election,” CNN Politics (10/15/20)

Hawkings, “Carter Center Details Its First Oversight of an American Election,” The Fulcrum (10/16/20)

Wolf, “It’s Not Magic, It’s Math. Here’s How CNN Makes Election Projections,” CNN Politics (10/17/20)

Enten, “Why Early Vote Trends Can’t Tell You Who Will Win,” CNN Politics (10/18/20)

Williams and Roberts, “We Gamed Out The 2020 Election And Found Our Constitution Can Handle The Madness,” The Federalist (10/18/20)

Desilver, “Election Night Marks the End of One Phase of Campaign 2020 — and the Start of Another”, Pew Research Center (10/22/20) 

•Foley, “The Particular Perils of Emergency Election Cases,” SCOTUSblog (10/23/20) 

Parlapiano, “How Long Will Vote Counting Take? Estimates and Deadlines in all 50 States”, New York Times (10/27/20)

Brockbank, et al, “Post-Election Day Scenarios”, Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project (10/27/20)

Friedman, et al, “From Tabulation to Certification: How Battleground States Count the Vote”, Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project (10/30/20) 

Gelman, “The Election That Could Break America,” Atlantic (November 2020)

•Sosnik, “Election Night Viewers Guide”, (11/01/20)

•Bauer and Ginsberg, “Trust Our Electoral System. It’s Built to Handle Challenges Like This,” Washington Post (11/03/20) 


Hartsoe, “Why So Many Young People Don’t Vote: Bass Connections Team Studying Causes and Developing Solutions,” Duke Today (10-29-18)

•Charles [Duke Law], “Motivated Reasoning, Post-Truth, and Election Law,” St. Louis University Law Journal (Summer 2020)

•Boston Globe Editorial Board, “Let the World Watch the 2020 Election,” (08/09/20) [citing Sanford School Dean Judith Kelley]

Ferreri, “Presidential Election: ‘Might Be a Waterfall We’re Going to Crash Over’, Experts Say,” Duke Today (09/20/20) [interview with Dean Kelley and Rubenstein Fellow Susan Gordon]

Duncan, “Claims of Election Fraud Have Dangerous Consequences, Experts Say,” Spectrum News (09/30/20) [citing Dean Kelley]

“Six Duke Books on Elections and Voting,” Duke Today (10/02/20)

Charles [Duke Law], “Texas legal battles highlight how the 2020 election is being fought in the courts”, NBC News (10/22/20)

“Five Duke Books on Politics and Public Policy,” Duke Today (10/27/20)


Interactive Constitution, “The Right to Vote: A Constitutional History,” National Constitution Center (7/20/20)

Interactive Constitution, “American Elections During Crisis,” National Constitution Center (8/6/20)

Financial Times/The Rachman Review, “Investigating ‘The Doubts’ about the US Presidential Election” (8/27/30)

Cato Daily Podcast “American Election Security”, (10/13/20)

National Public Radio “The Electoral College”, (10/15/20)

Washington Post, “The 2020 Election Is Facing Big Challenges: Which One Matters Most?”, (10-15-20)

Duke Sanford Policy 360 Podcast, “Everything You Need to Know About Voting in North Carolina”, (10-21-20)

CBS News Sunday Morning, “Voter Fraud, Suppression, and Partisanship,” (10/25/20)

•Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman’s “Deep Background” Podcasts:

•”Can the Post Office Handle the Election?” (8/25/20)
•”Why A Leading Election Scholar Cannot Sleep” (9/16/20)
•”Will Trump Concede?” (10/7/20)