(UnitedVoice.com) – Next month’s election already looks to be one of the most tense and hotly disputed in history; it’s not going to be any better if it takes days to decide who’s actually won. Now it seems that’s exactly what’s likely to happen. A huge surge in the number of people voting by mail is likely to cause delays in several key battleground states, and that means a lot of people are going to question whether the results are accurate.
State Rules Could Delay Results
A combination of mail-in voting deadlines and state bans on early counting means results in some vital battleground states won’t be known until days after the election. States can set their own rules on how elections have to be conducted, and this year some of them have relaxed their deadlines to make it easier to vote by mail. Here are the states most likely to hold up the election result:
- Arizona: On paper, Arizona is good at handling postal ballots. Mail-in votes have to be received by election day. In reality, the state can be slow to count votes: In 2018’s Senate race it took more than a week to decide the winner. On the bright side, a new law means officials can start counting ballots up to 14 days before the election; that might reduce delays.
- Florida: The Sunshine State doesn’t have a great reputation for delivering results on time, as anyone who remembers the 2000 election knows. This year’s explosion in postal voting isn’t going to help. By Thursday almost one Floridian in ten had already mailed in their ballot. All mail-in votes must be received by election day, though, and they can be counted 22 days in advance. Florida might be on time this year.
- Georgia: There’s an ongoing battle over mail-in votes in Georgia. In August a district court ruled that ballots received up to three days after the election should be counted, but last Friday a federal appeals court reversed that decision; all votes must be received by the time polls close on November 3. Counting won’t start until then, though, and Georgia can also be slow to process the results.
- Michigan. Michigan is definitely going to be late in delivering a result. Ballots received up to 14 days after the election will be counted, according to a September 18 ruling, as long as they were postmarked at least one day before the election. Counting won’t even start until election day, although Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a law last week that lets officials start processing – but not counting – votes on November 2.
- North Carolina. As long as a North Carolina ballot is postmarked on election day or earlier, it will be counted if it arrives by November 12. Counting can begin before election day, but it’s likely many votes won’t arrive by November 3. Local Republicans have strongly criticized the state’s Democrat-heavy election board.
- Pennsylvania. In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that ballots posted by election day will be counted if they arrive by November 6, and counting can’t start until polls close. State Republicans are appealing the extension to the US Supreme Court, but even if they are successful, the state’s result is likely to be days late.
- Wisconsin. Under pressure from Democrats, a Wisconsin court ruled that ballots could be counted if they were delivered by November 9 – but on Thursday a federal appeals court reversed that decision. Ballots have to be received by election day. Counting won’t start until then, though, so a delayed result is still possible.
With a recent Gallup poll showing public confidence in the fairness of the election as low as it’s ever been, delays that leave the result in the balance for days could push tensions through the roof. It looks like President Trump was right to be worried about the Democrats’ push for more mail-in votes.
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