Elected officials in Pennsylvania are warning voters not to expect final election results out of the critical swing state for several days after the election.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, both Democrats, are urging Pennsylvanians to be patient with election results. Mail-in ballots have reached historic numbers this election cycle, and some time after the polls close on Tuesday may be required before all votes can be accounted for.
Wolf is urging patience in an ad made through the voter advocacy group The Voter Project. The ad is set to begin airing on the afternoon of Election Day and run until all ballots have been counted for the final time, according to CNN.
“These are unprecedented times. Because of the coronavirus, there were millions of votes cast by mail so it may take longer than usual to count every vote. The folks in our election offices — your neighbors, family, and friends are working hard ensuring every single vote is counted,” Wolf reportedly says in the ad.
“So it may take a little longer than we’re used to, even a few days, but that’s okay,” Wolf says, “because it’s critical that your vote is counted – and it will be.”
Kenney warned Philadelphia residents in an open letter published online on Monday that the flood of mail-in ballots could delay results for “several days”:
After the polls close, and in the ensuing days, we will continue to need your patience. Never in the history of this city have so many people voted by mail. By law, staffers are not allowed to start opening and counting these ballots until Election Day itself.
That means getting a tally of mail-in ballots will easily take several days. This may determine the outcome in Philadelphia, and in the Commonwealth as a whole. So, again, please be patient.
Patience brings calm. We know all Philadelphians have been through a difficult year, and you know the importance of this election. So we close this letter with one last ask: if you should encounter frustrating or difficult situations on Election Day, let your inner strength guide you. Stay calm, stay respectful, stay above the fray.
In mid-October, the Supreme Court split 4-4 on whether to count mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania that arrive after election day. In a lower court ruling issued by the state supreme court, Democrats scored a victory and election officials were told to count ballots that are received up to three days after the election takes place. The Supreme Court split left the lower court ruling in place.
Chief Justice John Roberts had sided with the high court’s liberal bloc to stalemate the vote. The state GOP, who pushed to overturn the state Supreme Court’s ruling, argued that the delay in official results resulting from the ruling could undermine Americans’ confidence in the election.
“In a year where there is a very real possibility that the final presidential election result hinges on Pennsylvania, the new rules imposed by the decision of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (a body elected in partisan elections) could destroy the American public’s confidence in the electoral system as a whole,” the Pennsylvania GOP argued in a brief.