Almost all electors vow to vote for a certain candidate, which makes it possible to predict the outcome of the Electoral College vote. When the electors gather on December 19 to cast their ballots for the president, they are generally expected to vote according to their pledge.
Most states give their votes to the candidate who leads in the state, regardless of the margin, which means that if a candidate wins a state with a paper-thin advantage, he or she still gets all of its votes. The system has led to the existence of the battleground states which often end up deciding the fate of the election.
The electors rarely vote against the candidate they have pledged for. The so-called faithless electors can be punished by law in 29 states and Washington, D.C., but these laws have never been enforced.
The Electoral College managed to change the results of the election only once so far, in 1836, when all Virginia electors colluded to abstain during the vote for vice president.
In mid-November, the governor of each state prepares seven Certificates of Ascertainment and sends one of them to the US archivist. The rest are held for the December 19 meeting of the electors. When they have cast their votes, the Certificates of Vote and the six Certificates of Ascertainment are divided into six packages, one of which will then be sent to the Senate for the official recount in January.
On January 6, the two houses of the Congress will meet for a joint session chaired by Vice President Joseph Biden and count the votes. There are special provisions for the Congress actions in case they receive the conflicting results from the Electoral College. Assuming that this will not happen in 2017, one last possibility of challenging the results of the election remains. Written objections to the results of the election signed by at least one member of Senate and one Representative may be submitted to the Parliament.
The inauguration of the US president set for January 20 will be the culmination of the election process. Inaugural ceremonies are usually held at the Capitol Building.
The president-elect is expected to take the Oath of Office and to officially becomes the leader of the country.