WASHINGTON

US President-elect Joe Biden’s projected electoral defeat of incumbent Donald Trump is not the former vice president’s final step on his return to the White House.

Much remains between now and Jan. 20 Inauguration Day, even without the outgoing president’s expected legal challenges in battleground states he lost to Biden.

Much of the process between now and Inauguration Day revolves around the Electoral College, which Biden has won following state victories that have put him well past the needed 270 delegates to claim the presidency.

The 538-member body is divided by electors that are allocated to individual states by population. Most states use a winner-take-all system to determine who will be granted their electors, but Maine and Nebraska use a hybrid system that includes victors in individual congressional districts and other criteria.

Following Election Day, individual states have until Dec. 8 to resolve any disputes stemming from their contests. Governors have until that point to prepare what are known as Certificates of Ascertainment, which are used to officially sign off on election results and name individual delegates.

They officially meet in their respective states about a week later on Dec. 14 to cast their votes in line with their state results. Those ballots have until Dec. 23 to be received by the president of the Senate, who is procedurally the serving vice president, Mike Pence.

The US Congress then meets on Jan. 6 to count the ballots, two weeks before Inauguration Day.

Some states have passed laws that attempt to ensure electors, who are chosen by political parties, vote in line with the will of the people, with penalties ranging from fines to felonies.

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