“How election officials are planning to avoid a repeat of 2020’s slow vote count”

Zach Montellaro for Politico:

Election officials are preparing to count votes a lot faster in 2024, desperate to avoid a repeat of the long ballot count that left the winner of the presidential race uncertain for days in 2020.

Several battleground states have passed new laws to facilitate quicker counting and implemented more efficient processing procedures. The faster races are tabulated, the faster they’re called — and the shorter the period of uncertainty in which misinformation can spread, as when then-President Donald Trump escalated conspiracy theories about the vote count in 2020 and falsely declared himself the victor.

“We’re going to continue to be laser focused on the space and time between when the polls close and the unofficial results are announced,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat. “But what 2020 also showed us is that in addition to that time period, if the unofficial results are not what certain candidates had in mind or had hoped for, that we need to be prepared for them to double down on their misinformation.”

In addition to states counting votes more quickly and starting the process earlier, mail voting is expected to be down from 2020, when the pandemic led an unprecedented number of voters to avoid in-person polling places.

But issues remain. Counting procedures vary state by state, and partisan fighting has sometimes bogged down changes election workers want. And some key states — most notably Pennsylvania — still lag behind, election officials and experts warn, and in an exceptionally close presidential race it could still take days to know the winner.

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