President-elect of The United States - Constitutional Criteria - Presidential Transitions

Presidential Transitions

Recent Presidents-elect have assembled Presidential transition teams to prepare for a smooth transfer of power following the inauguration. Outgoing Presidents have cooperated with the President-elect on important policy matters during the last two months of the President's term to ensure a smooth transition and continuity of operations that have significant national interests. Before the ratification of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933, which moved the start of the Presidential term to January, the President-elect did not assume office until March, four months after the popular election.

The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 authorizes the Administrator of the General Services Administration to certify, even before the December vote of the Electoral College, the apparent winner of the November general election as the President-elect for the purposes of receiving federal transition funding, office space and communications services prior to the beginning of the new administration on January 20.

The President-elect assumes office as the next President of the United States of America upon the expiration of the term of the previous office-holder at noon on January 20. This procedure has been the subject of many misinterpretations and urban legends, such as the myth of David Rice Atchison's one-day-long presidency, which is predicated upon false assumptions and a logical flaw. Taking the formal oath of office does not affect the automatic accession to and occupation of the office of the presidency, which, in the case of the U.S. President, proceeds, ipso facto, from the expiration of the predecessor's term and the immediate start of the new four-year term. The oath of office is necessary so that the President can "enter upon the execution" of his office, but he is already President from the start of his term.

The President-elect and Vice President-elect receive mandatory protection from the United States Secret Service, but since the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, they have received such protection during the election campaign.

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