Matt York / AP
For months, election officials have warned that the winner of the presidential election may be unknown after election night ends.
Rules in some states do not allow election workers to begin the labor-intensive work of mailing ballot processing until Election Day. And with a record number of voters casting in the mail, the influx of refugees could delay the final count for several days.
Especially in six major states – Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – the winning margin is expected to be slim, so it can be difficult to tell who won until the ballots are fully counted. It takes 270 electoral votes to secure the White House – these states represent 101 combined.
While election officials in swinging states of Michigan and Pennsylvania tell voters that it may take a few days before the results are fully counted, officials in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, where ballot papers can be mailed in advance, expect elections to take place. Results more quickly. But if competition is close in those states, the final count could take a long time as absentee ballots are sent out close to Election Day.
Here’s a closer look at what to expect:
Arizona law allows election officials to count votes by mail up to two weeks before Election Day, so most ballots received by this weekend will be counted in advance. These numbers can be released beginning at 10 p.m. ET on election night, along with early voting results. The votes cast at polling stations on Election Day will come shortly thereafter.
Pre-counted absentee votes and personal votes will make up the bulk of the votes cast in Arizona, so the winner will likely be announced there on election night.
However, absentee ballots sent just before the election may not be counted until Thursday or Friday, so if the race is close, he may still be hesitant as late as next week.
In Arizona, as well as anywhere else where ballots can be counted by mail before Election Day, the early count of Joe Biden may show progress. But results may start to swing toward President Trump when personal votes are taken into account later in the evening. For a good measure, that can all turn out again as the last ballots flush through the mail.
Lynn Sweet / AP
Americans may know who won Florida before they sleep on Election Night.
Unlike Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, Florida allows counties to do processing work – such as sorting and opening envelopes – weeks before Election Day. Also unlike other states, a grace period is not permitted for mailing ballots after Election Day.
All early votes and pre-scheduled polls are supposed to be released starting at 7:30 PM ET on election night, according to Mark Ard, communications director for the Florida Department of State.
“If the elections are critical enough, we should be able to contact Florida on election night,” said Michael MacDonald, a political expert at the University of Florida. South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Like Arizona, pre-counted and first postal ballots were expected to be more favorable to Biden, soon after as ballots approached and personal votes counted.
However, some interruptions may take longer Completed count Postcards that arrive just before Election Day. If elections are close, it may take until Wednesday or Thursday, when these counties finish counting, to determine who won the Sunshine State.
David Goldman / AP
“It can take order Until Friday, November 6, to count all the votes, “Office of the Michigan Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson Wrote Thursday. “Depending on how close the races are, this likely means that the results will not be decided on Tuesday.”
In Michigan, election officials in cities of more than 25,000 can begin mailing ballots Monday at 10 a.m., sort ballot papers and remove envelopes. However, it cannot be counted until polling closes.
Historically, Detroit, an important Democratic stronghold, has been slow to count election results. At a Thursday press conference, Detroit clerk Janice Winfrey said the city has hired thousands of extra poll workers to improve the process, but warned The final results will not be ready on Tuesday evening, and I talked about the idea of ”Election Week.”
“Time is not a real concern for us,” Winfrey said. “We want to make sure that every voter and every ballot … was processed, received and scheduled correctly on Election Day.”
As in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Michigan Democrats are disproportionately expected to cast their votes by mail. If the release of personal counters begins before mailing ballots is collected, President Trump may appear at the forefront at first, with his progress narrowing or disappearing as more mail ballots count.
North Carolina is another state where the initial results should come quickly.
The North Carolina Board of Elections estimates that 80% of the vote will be cast early or by mail and will be released once polling closes at 7:30 PM ET.
“For the 20% or so of North Carolina residents who vote on Election Day, we’ll receive those from the constituency and upload them as well,” North Carolina State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson-Bell He said on Thursday. “So, if there are really close races, these Election Day votes will be of great importance in the results of these elections.”
Initial results may be in favor of Democrats, who are more likely to vote by mail. The flow of Republican votes could flow with the vote count on Election Day.
North Carolina accepts ballots that arrive by November 12 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, a recent policy. Upheld by the US Supreme Court. So as in other states with generous mail-in voting deadlines, these final ballots can be important if races are tight and leave the final result unclear for the days after Election Day.
Secretary of State Cathy Boukfar He said The “vast majority” of the vote will be counted by Friday, 6 November.
“We are sure it will take longer than it was before,” Gov. Tom Wolfe said He said Thursday. “Perhaps we will not know the results of election night.”
Pennsylvania election officials can accept mail ballots up to three days after the election, as long as they are mailed to November 3.
Several counties say they will start processing ballot papers as soon as permitted, at 7 a.m. Election Day, but a handful, such as Cumberland County outside Harrisburg, say they will not begin handling absentee ballots until Wednesday.
“We are having a conversation with whatever province says it’s waiting,” Boukfar said on Thursday. “I want every one of them to start on election day.”
Erie County, which switched from Obama to Trump in 2016, will begin processing absentee votes on Election Day, but will begin Wait for the count Until about 11 pm, after the personal vote count.
In Lucerne County, home of Wilkes-Barre, County Administrator David Bedre told NPR that the county hopes to count a large portion of the postal ballots Tuesday night, but it won’t end until Wednesday or Thursday. He said he has 40 people working from 7 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. processing and counting the votes later. Pedri said keeping them around the clock for longer could lead to mistakes.
During the primaries, Pedri says it took four days to count 40,000 mail-order ballots. They have since added an envelope opening machine that should speed up the process, but this fall, Luzern sent 70,000 ballot papers in the mail – a third of the electorate.
In Bucks County, outside Philadelphia, Commissioner Robert Harvey told NPR that officials will begin announcing clusters of results from in-person and mail voting at 10 p.m. on election night. He says it is difficult to know how long it will take until the end because they do not know how many absentee ballots will be returned, but he is confident they will be completed “before Friday.”
If the 2020 elections come to Pennsylvania, and the margin is tight, the election will likely remain suspended for several days.
“I think we’ll be able to know the results of the Wisconsin election, hopefully that night and maybe the next day at the latest,” said Governor Tony Evers. He said Advance in this month.
Wisconsin cannot begin the bulk of processing work until Election Day, but most counties say they expect to finish the count before Wednesday morning.
Julieta Henry, Milwaukee County Electoral Director, said she Expect The province will finish reporting absentee ballots between 3am and 6am on Wednesday.
“If it takes longer than that, we just ask you to be patient because we want to make sure that every vote is counted and counted accurately,” she says. “We’ll be here until it ends.”
State law says count It cannot be paused Once it begins, election workers may end up working overnight, although the Election Commission has expressed some leniency on this front.
“There are definitely smaller cities and towns where results will come out as usual,” said Reid Magne, a media officer for the Wisconsin Election Commission. “But in some major cities, especially where absentee votes are counted in a central location instead of at the polling place, we may not see all the results until the next morning.”