The title President-elect is used in the U.S. between election day and inauguration day. During the presidential transition there is an Office of the President-Elect in the White House. But there is no specific flag for the President-elect. Should there be?
The President-Elect of the United States is the person who has won the presidential election, but has not yet been inaugurated and taken the Presidential Oath of Office. For a little over two months the President-elect prepares for taking over and organises his administration. To a certain extent the President-elect is supported in this endeavor by the incumbent President and his administration. A smooth transition of executive power is an ideal in American politics.
The President of the United States has a personal flag which is used for military and ceremonial purposes, in official photos, for press conferences, in the Oval Office as well as on buildings, cars, ships and airplanes where he is present. The flag is dark blue and has on it the presidential coat of arms surrounded by 50 white five-pointed stars. The flag is never flown at half mast. It is not connected to the President’s person as such, but to the office of President.
The President-elect becomes President and Commander-in-chief at the moment when his predecessor’s term of office comes to an end. That is at noon on January 20 according to the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Taking into consideration the semi-official status of the President-elect in the transitional period, an argument could be made for him to have his own personal flag. A design similar to that of the presidential flag, but with the color being red instead of blue, would ensure that the flag of the President-elect were easily distinguishable from that of the President.
Personal flags of senior officials of the executive branch of government, heads of departments and high-ranking military officers (generals and admirals) are usually kept in the colors of the American flag: blue, white and red.
The Vice President of the United States has a white flag with four blue stars and the presidential coat of arms. As the senior official in charge of U.S. foreign policy the Secratary of State uses a blue flag with four white stars and a white disc with the coat of arms from the Great Seal of the United States. His deputy in the State Department has a similar flag where the colors blue and white are reversed.
The Secretary of the Treasury’s personal flag is blue with the Treasury emblem and 13 stars, all in white. The flag of the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury is white, with stars and emblem in red. Under Secretaries use a red flag with the colors reversed: red, with stars and emblem in white.
The system of using different combinations of colors to indicate rank is also used for the highest and second-highest civilian officials in the Department of Defense and in the Departments of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.