Americans should wait a bit as delays in election results are due to COVID-19 and uncounted votes. Knowing who won local or national races will need a little bit of patience. The good news is, the elections went smoother than expected.
Counting votes is a different beast altogether. Due to fears of acquiring COVID-19, a lot of voters chose to mail their ballots. And this is where the delays begin. Some states reported a surge in mail-in ballots that will need more time to count.
Based on this year’s primaries, counting mail votes can cause delays of more than a week in some areas. This happened in some key primaries in New York and Kentucky. Officials say that in the case of counting, accuracy is more important than speed.
Voting Wasn’t the Problem
During the November 4 elections, Americans went out to vote in record numbers. According to NBC News, at least 159.8 million Americans voted this year. This is the largest number of voters in a U.S. presidential election in history.
Yet, this was far from the record percentage of voters. Based on eligible voters, the 2020 elections boasted a 66.8% turnout rate. This pales in comparison to the 1876 elections when 82.6% of voters turned up to vote. Republican Rutherford Hayes won in a hotly-contested election versus Democrat Samuel Tilden.
Why do mail ballots take longer to count?
Unlike in-person voting, mail ballots are more complicated to count. Apart from having the machine read the ballot, mail votes need opening. Then, signatures will need verification, then the ballots folded to fit the machines.
Some locales may get hamstrung by budgetary constraints. They may need extra staff or extra machines to help hasten to count. Also, some states will accept ballots after the elections. They will need a postmarked date before or by Election day. This will stretch the counting for a few more days. Already, some states have received requests for extensions. They need more hours to accommodate the large number of mail-ins.
Case Study: Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is a case study. With only 11% of uncounted votes remaining, the President is hanging on to a slim 50.7%lead over Joe Biden’s 48.1%. Counting mail-in ballots here is the ultimate test of patience. Ballots feature two security envelopes, then officials must match signatures.
Besides, poll workers can only count mail-ballots starting at 7 am on Election Day. With 3 million mail-in ballots for counting, election officials requested an earlier start. The legislature did not approve of it.
Trump: “It’s a sign of trouble”
As Counting Begins, a Flood of Mail Ballots Complicates Vote Tallies https://t.co/UY0FO0rQwN
— Ion V. Sancho (@Ionsancho1) November 4, 2020
President Donald Trump thinks that a slow count is a sign of trouble. Last Sunday, he said: “I think it’s terrible that we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election. I think it’s a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over.”
The President earlier said he opposes universal vote-by-mail. Also, he doesn’t support automatic mailing ballots to registered voters. He said that these instances can invite fraud. Trump did say he is all right with states where a voter must request a mail-in ballot in advance.
Research showed recorded instances of mailed-in voter fraud. Investigators found most incidents as isolated cases. Election officials assured voters that there are safeguards in place.
Given the pandemic, it makes sense for people to vote by mail. They fear unnecessary contact with other people in a crowded polling center. This is why voters returned a record 64 million mail-in ballots before Election Day. The sheer number alone would make it certain of the need for extra days for counting.
It’s only a matter of time before we find out who won the elections. The longer we’re subjected to wait, the more doubts can creep in. Improvements to the voting system need serious consideration. While we’re at it, we may want to think of a system that’s pandemic-proof.
Given the state of the voting system, especially the mail-in votes, delays have become inevitable. Add the individual states’ peculiarity in rules, and we will find close fights getting more complicated. Without improvements, we hope the counting won’t reach the point where it becomes intolerable. Otherwise, it will be more than Covid-19 and uncounted votes that will cause a delay in election results.
Watch this as Fox 4 Now explains why election result delays are common:
Do you find the delays in the vote-counting acceptable? Let us know what you think by sharing your experiences or comments below.