Unfortunately, it could be a while before the United States is able to hear any definitive 2020 presidential election results. Laws on when states can begin counting mail-in votes vary, skewing and slowing down the final numbers significantly. But how much longer can this waiting game really go on? Well, if you take a look at the nitty-gritty of election result deadlines and confirmations, things still seem a little… complicated. And a lot of how soon the nation will have a confirmed result hinges on several battleground states.
Despite what you might be thinking, there is no law mandating that the election must be decided on election night, or in the days that immediately follow for that matter. In fact, the numbers and "results" you see on election night are largely just projections, or estimations based on extensive reviews of voting data, according to NPR. In reality, the full picture isn’t available until a state’s election officials count every ballot — including in-person votes, early votes, and mail-in votes.
The reason election results are coming significantly slower in 2020 than in years past is thanks, in large part, to the surge of absentee ballots from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. States have differing laws regarding the order and timeline by which they can count absentee and early votes, which is why the numbers continue to change in several key battleground states, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, and Nevada.
In Pennsylvania, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar said in late October that votes may still be counted in the state potentially as late as Friday, Nov. 6. The New York Times reports that absentee ballots in Pennsylvania can arrive by Nov. 6, assuming they were postmarked by Election Day. In Michigan, election officials expect to have a clearer picture of a winner by the night of Nov. 4.
More to come…
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