It could take a few days — or even a couple of weeks — for Karen Handel to be sworn in as the newest member of the House of Representatives.
The Republican defeated documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff Tuesday evening in a nationally-watched contest for Georgia’s 6th District congressional seat. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Handel won 51.9 percent of the vote.
Before Handel can take the oath of office, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office must certify Tuesday’s election results. From there, the certification is sent to Gov. Nathan Deal, who will transfer it to the clerk of the House of Representatives. GOP leaders can schedule a swearing-in date once the notice is received on Capitol Hill.
That timeline typically takes about a week, veterans of the process told us, but it can vary based on circumstances such as how tight the race was.
Georgia law allows up to two weeks to certify election results, although the Secretary of State’s Office typically certifies before the official deadline. In this case, due to the July 4 holiday, it has until July 5 to certify results from the runoff.
The Secretary of State’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It took six days for the election results from last month’s special election in Montana to be received by the House. But it has taken an additional three weeks for Greg Gianforte, the race’s Republican victor, to be sworn in. During the intervening period, Gianforte appeared in court for allegedly assaulting a journalist. His swearing-in ceremony is scheduled to occur today.
Special election victors arrive in Washington and quickly find themselves at the center of a series of Capitol Hill traditions.
First comes a mock swearing-in with Speaker Paul Ryan in an ornate room just steps from the House chamber. That’s where the photo-ops occur as the soon-to-be lawmakers clutch their family Bibles and pose with Ryan, their spouses and children. Then the representative-elect is walked roughly 30 feet to the House floor, where the actual swearing-in occurs. It’s typical for the new victors to step into the well, raise their right hand and say the oath of office. Some give a short speech afterward.
It’s possible Handel could be sworn in at the same time as Ralph Norman, the Republican who won South Carolina’s special election on Tuesday night.
Staff writer Kristina Torres contributed to this article.