Why election night results could be delayed

Don't be surprised if it takes several days for results
Posted at 8:20 AM, Sep 16, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Election Day is less than 50 days away, but results from the election could take a lot longer.

That's because a record number of voters are voting by mail this election and different states have different rules regarding when those ballots can be opened and processed.

Absentee ballots or mail-in ballots generally take a lot longer to count compared to in-person voting machines, because ballots need to be opened and scanned.

For instance, in the crucial swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, ballots can't be opened until Election Day. That differs from other states, like Colorado, which can open ballots as they come into election offices.

That means it will take election officials in those swing states a herculean effort to process and scan ballots to get accurate results by the end of election night.

Each state is facing either pending legislation at their State Capitol or various lawsuits asking the rules be changed.

Those aren't the only reasons results may be delayed.

In many states, like North Carolina, Georgia, Nevada and Minnesota, ballots are allowed to be postmarked on Election Day. That means it may take a few days to arrive to an election office.

"I think we are looking at five to seven days to roughly a week," said Ted Trimpa, a political consultant.

"The challenge is you are going to have so many states doing mail-in ballots that have never done mail ballots," Trimpa said.

And it may not just be swing states that are the issue.

In New York, a state that will almost certainty vote Democrat, primary results from earlier this year took four weeks in some cases.

Henry Rosoff, a political reporter with WPIX in New York City, explained New York law requires 48 hours to pass after the election before absentee ballots can be counted.

"We are not going to even begin to count half of our votes until 48 hours after Election Day," Rosoff said.

"If we were a swing state, it would seem absolutely outrageous," Rosoff said.