Delays caused by errors and slow mail processing
On the morning of November 3rd, the nation woke up to the call of Uncle Sam knocking on their doors for Election Day. Since earlier this year, the country has been in a stressful situation, with intense political divisions, rising concerns over police brutality, unemployment rates reaching all time highs and a global pandemic. Yet in the final weeks, as election day drew closer and closer still, the tension grew even more. The American public, even with as much as 68% saying that the election is a significant source of stress according to an October survey by the American Psychological Association, have shown up to the polls in record high numbers.
This election year has been one of many firsts. Not only was it the first election for a candidate to earn more than 70 million votes, it was also the first to prioritize mail-in voting ballots, with concerns of in-person voting being too dangerous with the threat of COVID-19. While these mail-in ballots are a safer alternative, it wasn’t until the week before the election that states started releasing plans on how they would count all the mail-in votes in concordance with election rules. Election law in some states, like Pennsylvania, stopped officials from counting mail-in ballots before 7 a.m. on Election day. With these legal parameters, we expected to see a delay in results like we had not seen in recent memory.
Many found themselves worried about mail-in ballots for fear of voter fraud, voter suppression, and other concerns. Days before the election the United States Postal Service said 300,000 ballots could not be traced, according to USA Today. Those ballots received entry scans at processing facilities but not exit scans. A judge ordered USPS to search 12 processing facilities for the ballots, but USPS said they would be looking for the missing ballots at their own schedule.
Leading up to the election, both candidates found themselves holding rallies to the public to garner support and convince the final undecided voters before Election Day. President Donald Trump was busy in the Midwest, making multiple stops but prioritizing Michigan, a state he won in 2016. This visit served to be fruitless, though, as Biden won Michigan late yesterday afternoon. Former Vice President Joe Biden, spoke to a drive-in crowd of around 1,000 in Pittsburgh.
As polls closed across the country on Election Day, many wondered who was voting and who was showing out the most for which candidate. This year has brought an unprecedented amount of voters. Compared to the 2016 election between Trump and Hillary Clinton, not only has an almost 10% increase in youth voters aged 18-24 been predicted to get to the polls, but a similar increase in non-white votes is also expected. Just in the last four years, the amount of non-white voters in the country has seen a 5% increase, according to Pew Research.
As votes started to pour in, the American public sat in worry as states changed blue to red and vice-versa in an instant. While not looking to be as close as the 2016 election, Joe Biden and Donald Trump were still neck and neck for a majority of the time.
Early in the night, Trump was leading in the popular vote but lacking in the electoral college, where a candidate needs 270 votes to win. Biden managed to win swing states such as Wisconsin and Michigan, two states that were predicted to be Republican strongholds. However, Trump won important states such as Florida, Texas, and is predicted to win Pennsylvania as of press time. We still do not have a definitive answer, but at the moment Biden has 264 electoral college votes compared to Trump’s 214.
Both candidates have already expressed confidence in winning the presidency. Trump has declared victory in several states, some of which have been called for Biden, like Michigan. Votes are still being counted and delayed mail-in ballots are expected to have strong impacts on the results.
These delays are a quite different and longer experience than the American people are used to, but they are necessary in this year’s election. We might not have results at once, or as soon as we would like, but the delays mean that the process of sorting through the votes and the mail-in ballots is working, and that they are being counted.
The country is hoping to have definitive results on who will win the election by the weekend.