Election experts who spoke to NBC News this week said that Americans probably won’t know who has been elected president on election night, and they may have to wait for days to find out. These experts said that a massive increase in mail-in voting and local policies about how those ballots are tallied will likely lead to a delay in finalizing the results of all the elections taking place in November, including the presidential election.
NBC News reported that in crucial swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, there are rules in place that don’t allow absentee ballots to be counted until the day of the election, even if they arrive days before. This means that a staggering amount of ballots will have to be counted on election day and in the days following.
A prominent election lawyer named Marc Elias told NBC News that results from these two states, which could determine the election, will not be in by the time election night is over.
“There is no chance that we will know on election night the full vote total in Michigan,” Elias said. “Neither Michigan nor Pennsylvania have a history of large numbers of absentee ballots being cast. And Michigan law prohibits the absentee ballots from even starting to be counted until polls are closed.”
Matthew Weil, the director of a Washington-based think tank called the Elections Project, agreed with Elias.
“If they can’t even start until Election Day or after the polls close, it’s going to be a long wait from two pretty key swing states in determining the outcome,” Weil told NBC News.
The President of the United States (who has voted by mail in the last three elections) personally directed the White House budget director to punish states that expand mail-in voting due to COVID.
My question: Where the heck does the budget office get that kind of authority? pic.twitter.com/JYlLf5tcnm
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) June 4, 2020
Mail-in voting for November’s elections is expected to hit an unprecedented high, NBC News reported. The coronavirus pandemic is making many Americans nervous about the safety of voting in-person, so more voters than ever before are expected to request absentee ballots. Some projections show that the number of mail-in ballots could increase by millions nationwide.
NBC News posited that there could be another reason for delays — objections from President Donald Trump. If the initial election results don’t show the vote going in Trump’s favor, it’s possible that he will demand a recount or try to invalidate the election results by claiming the results are due to voter fraud. The president has frequently claimed that mail-in voting leads to voter fraud, though there’s no evidence to prove this is true.
Elias told NBC News he believes “the greatest risk in post-election disputes is that Donald Trump loses the election and makes up false claims of fraud.”