Over the last few months, states across the US have seen record numbers of their voters cast their votes by mail as states expand and encourage its use during Covid-19. It’s a change that means election officials are going to need more time to count votes as ballots flood election offices on election day and afterwards – some states count ballots postmarked by election day if they arrive in the days after the election.
There are worries about how the US will react to delayed results during November’s hotly contested presidential election. Americans are used to the spectacle of election night – anchors on major networks breathlessly analyze and call races and the evening culminates in a late night speech from victorious candidates. That’s very unlikely to happen this year – Americans are going to be waiting a while to find out whether or not Donald Trump will be president for another four years.
“The delays during the primaries in getting election results can teach the media and voters a valuable lesson: processing and counting absentee ballots takes more time than tabulating in-person votes,” said Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine who specializes in elections. “The public, despite the inevitable angst over the results of November’s election, needs to be prepared for the media to say that the presidential race is ‘too early to call’ if it is close in the electoral college.”