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How to Participate in the 2013 Inauguration

Inauguration Day is the day when the President-elect and Vice President-elect swear in and take office. It occurs every four years on January 20. This year, since January 20 is a Sunday, the public swearing-in ceremony will take place on Monday, January 21.

Here’s how you can be involved in this year’s inauguration:

Tickets for Swearing-in Ceremony

A limited amount of tickets for the inaugural swearing-in ceremonies are available free of charge from your senators and representatives. Tickets will be made available about a week before the event. Contact your senator or representative for more information.

The only place you can get these tickets is from your elected officials, and the tickets are free. Any other person or website trying to sell you tickets is likely a scam.

You can watch the inauguration without a ticket from the National Mall.

Presidential Inauguration Parade

After the swearing-in and inaugural luncheon, a Presidential Inauguration Parade occurs for the President and Vice President. The event includes a procession of military units, citizen groups, marching bands, and floats.

Parade participants are selected by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Marching bands, mounted units and other performers wishing to participate can find can apply online.

The inauguration parade is open to the public and is on television.

Inaugural Balls

Inaugural balls honor the President and Vice President. The Presidential Inaugural Committee organizes official balls, and some state societies also sponsor balls. Tickets are required to attend most official inaugural balls, but some organizations hold unofficial events that are open to the general public.

Learn more about the 2013 inauguration and how you can participate.

What Happens Next in the Election Process

Voting has come and gone, and President Obama was declared the winner of the 2012 Presidential election.

But there’s still a lot of behind-the-scenes work that takes place before the election results are 100 percent official.

Here’s a look at what happens between now and the inauguration:

Between now and December 17:

The governors of all of the states must certify the election results, and provide copies of the Certificates of Ascertainment to the Archivist of the United States and your state’s electors.

December 17:

Electors meet in their state and cast their ballots for the President and Vice President. A copy of these votes is sent to the Vice President for the official count in Congress. The votes must be received by December 26.

January 6:

Congress meets in a joint session to officially count the electoral votes. As President of the Senate, the Vice President oversees the process and announces the final results.

January 20:

January 20 is the official day of the inauguration, however, this year because it falls on a Sunday, the public swearing in ceremony will be held on Monday, January 21, 2013.

Learn more about what happens between the election and the inauguration.

President Obama Wins Reelection

Image description: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama embrace Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden moments after the television networks called the election in their favor. Photo by Pete Souza, White House.

President Barack Obama won the 2012 Presidential election. According to major news outlets, he captured 303 electoral college votes, and won important battleground states like Ohio and Virginia.

Obama will begin his second-term in office when he is sworn in at a public ceremony taking place on January 21, 2013.

Learn more about the President and the inauguration.

Can You Vote Online?

No, online voting is not currently allowed in the United States. Some uniformed and overseas citizens can vote by fax or e-mail if their state accepts absentee ballots in these formats.

Uniformed Service Members and Other Overseas Citizens

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986 allows you to vote absentee in local, state and federal elections if you are a U.S. citizen, 18 years or older, and an active duty member of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marine, Public Health Service, NOAA, a family member of the above, or a U.S. citizen residing outside the United States.

Many states allow absentee voters that meet UOCAVA requirements to submit their ballot by fax or as a scan attached to an e-mail.

More information about each state’s absentee voting procedures are available from the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Residents Displaced by Hurricane Sandy

The state of New Jersey recently extended coverage of UOCAVA (PDF) to residents to who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy. People who meet the requirements may be able to vote by fax or e-mail.

Challenges With Online Voting

The 2002 Help America Vote Act established the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to help administer federal elections, including certifying voting systems. The Act also directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to research and make recommendations to the EAC regarding voting security and privacy.

NIST has done research on remote voting technologies and they have concluded that current Internet Voting Systems are not as secure as in person voting. Problems such as malware on personal computers and the lack of electronic voter authentication would reduce confidence in the results.

Read NIST’s report on Security Considerations for Remote Electronic UOCAVA Voting (PDF).