US Election 2020: Why We Might Not Know The US Election Results Tonight
It’s Election Night in the US. However, whether it’s Donald Trump or Joe Biden, we may not find out who’s secured the presidency tonight.
The first polls will close at 7pm ET/12am GMT. Throughout the course of the evening, results will trickle in from states across the country. However, it won’t necessarily be as simple as finding out the winner in a few hours.
Firstly, the winner of the US election has never been confirmed on the night – technically. Deadlines for counting and certifying votes differ across the states, however it’s generally clear who’s won from key states. Tonight may be slightly different.
Due to the current pandemic, there’s been a notable uptick in early in-person voting and mail-in ballots across the country. Prior to Election Day, more than 102 million US citizens cast their votes in a record-breaking turnout.
However, mail-in votes could cause delays, simply because they take longer to count. The ballots are removed from envelopes and assessed for errors, before being organised and processed through scanners when the polls close.
While this has been permitted early in some states, even weeks before Election Day, others have not allowed earlier counts – for example, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, three key battleground states. Doing this on the night, plus counting in-person votes, will be virtually impossible to complete.
Trump earlier said, as per AP: ‘I think it’s terrible that we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election. I think it’s a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over.’
While this means the exact results of the election may take longer to come in, the onus of indicating who could win really falls on the battleground states – namely, Florida.
Florida is the biggest ‘swing state’ in the US, with 29 Electoral College seats available. It’s been a winning state for every president bar the 1964 election, with no Republican candidate securing the presidency without Florida since Calvin Coolidge, almost 100 years ago.
Crucially, Florida has allowed mail-in votes to be sufficiently counted and organised 22 days ahead of Election Day. The state’s polls close at 8pm ET/1am GMT, with results expected to come in around an hour later.
While there’s been no evidence to suggest anything nefarious, Trump has repeatedly cautioned against mail-in voting due to the possibility of fraud. With regards to accepting the result of the election, he earlier said: ‘We’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.’
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