BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As President Donald Trump’s team launch a barrage of legal challenges against how ballots are being counted in a number of states, some wonder if Trump will remain in the White House as President should the battle continue into the new year.

According to Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan Adler, if the results of the election are not certified by the deadline, the Speaker of the House becomes president. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who was born in Baltimore, is currently serving as House Speaker. She previously served as the Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011.

Adler spoke to CBSN about what could happen if the election results are put on hold until these lawsuits inch their way through the courts.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, speaks during a news conference at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. President Donald Trump has once again defied polls and predictions, with a strong showing across the Sun Belt in early results appearing to significantly shrink Democratic nominee Joe Bidens path to victory. Photographer: J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“There is a drop dead date, if the results of the election are not certified in time for a new president to be inaugurated, we then actually go to the Presidential Succession Act,” Adler said. “So ultimately it would mean if you couldn’t certify the results of the election and the Speaker of the House would become president.”

“But that would only occur if you couldn’t certify the results in January,” Adler added.

The chief election official in each state must certify election results, according to, and in most states that is the secretary of state.

States continue to count votes after an unprecedented number of ballots were cast in the 2020 Election.

“It certainly is unsettling to have to go multiple days and people want to resolve — this sort of conflict will be resolved relatively quickly,” he said. ” If the US Supreme Court does decide it has to hear about one of these cases, they will resolve it relatively quickly.”

But Adler believes the Supreme Court would resolve it in November long before the certification deadlines and having to certify someone else as president.

The president-elect is scheduled to be sworn-in on Jan. 20, 2021.

Pelosi was first elected to Congress in 1987 and followed in her father Thomas D’Alesandro Jr.’s footsteps. D’Alesandro served as Baltimore’s mayor and then a Maryland congressman.

You can read more about the Trump campaign’s lawsuits on CBS News.

CBS Baltimore Staff

Comments (7)
  1. Mary Frances Ryan says:

    That’s not how it works. Trump’s term ends January 20. But Congress will confirm the winner of the Electoral College on January 6, and if there is no winner the House will elect the President on January 6, voting by states. I.e. the Republicans will elect a president from among the top three electoral college vote getters. Let’s hope for faithless electors!

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  3. NO-TRUMP says:

    You are partially wrong- the electoral college can not vote if the election in every state is not certified by Jan 6th- unlikely but possible. In the event the EC does not vote before Jan 20th then Pelosi will indeed be the POTUS as she is Speaker of the House & currently 3rd in line.

    Not to worry, Biden will be sworn in on Jan 20th, Harris will be VP & Pelosi Speaker of the House as the GOP will not flip the house.

  4. chrissfarmer says:

    That’s true. If for some reason each state has not certified results by time they are supposed to meet, they can not vote as most are bound to vote per certified state results. No certified results no vote as the election has to be deemed legitimate, correct and over first & each state has to certify their results. Pelosi would then be the President on inauguration day until the Electoral College could vote. They can not vote per uncertified results, which could be wrong.

    Maybe Trump is under the mistaken impression he can remain in office if he can tie up the results? As usual he is wrong. I suspect all his lawsuits will get tossed out and his allegations of massive fraud and votes received by the states’ deadlines but counted after election day are “fraudulent” are baseless.

    I am not huge fan of Pelosi, but given a choice of her or Trump, I would pick her. At least she is sane! He has gone off the rails and is clearly in need of an intervention at this point. I’m confident all Trump’s claims will be dismissed and the results will be certified as there is not and has never been any sort of massive widespread farud in a US presidential election. It is only taking longer due to the massive amount of mail in ballots due to COVID. As Biden said, we need to be patient and trust the system while workers do their jobs during a pandemic.

  5. Irving Milkman says:

    Mary is wrong, Congress does not elect the president. Each state will report their results to the senate, not congress, but they can only do that after the state has certified their final results. The electoral college makes the decision & votes, the house & senate (in a joint session) just open the results from each state and tabulate them to determine the winner. If there is a tie or neither beats 270, Congress votes to break the tie (which would mean Biden as the Dems have keep the majority there). The law says if the election is for some reason not certified by Jan 20th, Trump may not stay in office & Biden cannot take office either. The succession would then fall to speaker of the house, which will probably be Pelosi if she is reelected by the house and she has said she will run again. She would remain until the problem is corrected & all states certify results, but it is highly unlikely this will happen. Trump’s claims mail in/drop off/absentee/military overseas ballots received by the state deadline (which may be election day or later) but physically counted after the election are fraudulent is unfounded. If the winner of certified results (Trump or Biden) dies or is not able to take office on inauguration day for some reason (such as being hospitalized, incarcerated or found ineligible), then their VP is automatically sworn in as president. It will revert to the president elect if and when he or she is able to take office.

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