As Americans sit on the edge of their seats watching votes trickle in this Wednesday morning (Nov. 4), one question looms: When will a winner be announced? After an uncertain Election Day, officials say that increased postal voting due to the pandemic could mean days before all ballots get counted.
According to The Guardian, counting mail-in ballots takes more time because voter and witness signatures must be checked, addresses must be validated and ballots need to be smoothed out before they can be fed through counting machines. A whopping 68 percent of voters cast their ballots early or by mail this year, compared to 34 percent in 2016.
Furthermore, some states do not begin counting mail-in ballots until Election Day. This was the case in Pennsylvania, where Trump currently holds nearly a 10 percent lead. Officials in the state have reported that the counting process could take up to two days to complete. In Wisconsin, where Biden has pulled ahead slightly, a call is expected to be made soon.
Michigan, a key undecided state with 16 electoral votes, allowed counting to start on Monday (Nov. 2). However, officials in the state say the process did not begin soon enough to expect an early result.
Georgia is another state where votes are still being counted, as several large counties reported long delays yesterday. State election officials started up the counting process again this morning.
To further slow proceedings, about half of all states also accept mail-in ballots that arrive after Election Day, which means votes will continue to be counted in these states for next several days. Pennsylvania, for one, has said that their results will not be declared complete until their postal mail deadline, which is Friday (Nov. 5).
Recounts in battleground states are also a possibility, as Donald Trump has already threatened to go to the Supreme Court in an attempt to stop ballot counting. The president addressed his supporters at the White House last night to suggest his victory and claim that the ballot-counting delay is a Democratic ploy against him.
Conversely, Joe Biden urged patience among his supporters on Tuesday night, as ballot-counting could continue on in the days ahead.
“I’m here to tell you tonight that we believe that we’re on track to win this election,” he said. “We knew because of the unprecedented early vote and mail-in vote that [it’s] gonna take a while. We’re gonna have to be patient... it ain’t over until every vote is counted.”