On Election Night, many were glued to their television screens as results started to pour in. With memories of elections past dictating what we should expect, we grew anxious as state after state was called for either candidate. Then, as we entered the early hours of November 4th, everything seemed to stop.
More than a week later, while many outlets have called the race for Joe Biden with a projected majority of at least 279 electoral votes, several states still haven’t been called. Several other states took days to provide any further information regarding who had actually won on November 3rd. What happened?
Arizona (yet to be called)
The state of Arizona, home to a contentious presidential and Senate battle fueled (at least in part) by Trump’s turbulent relationship with the McCain family, has still yet to be called for either candidate by many outlets. According to the New York Times, with more than 98% of estimated votes reported, Joe Biden holds a narrow lead over Donald Trump of just over 11,000 votes (0.33%).
While Fox News famously called Arizona for Biden early on Election Night — to the disgust of the Trump campaign — the official results are still yet to be released. This is because there still remain “around 18,000 votes left to be counted, most of them provisional ballots.” According to officials, one major cause of the continued delay in counting has been in the “process of uploading the data” in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix.
North Carolina (yet to be called)
While some outlets, including Decision Desk HQ, have called North Carolina for Donald Trump, many outlets have yet to follow suit. According to the New York Times, with 98% of estimated votes reported, Donald Trump holds a considerable lead over Joe Biden of more than 71,000 votes (1.3%). Frustrated by the continued delay in North Carolina, Donald Trump took to Twitter:
It took long enough! What is taking North Carolina so long? Are they looking for more ballots to fix that one also? Now with a recount, we will win Georgia also. Pennsylvania & Michigan wouldn’t let our Poll Watchers & Observers into counting rooms. Illegal! https://t.co/TVTVv4s5Lx
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2020
One potential reason (or excuse) for the continued delay is that North Carolina accepted mail-in ballots until November 12th as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. However, with only a handful of additional votes being counted at this point, and with Trump’s significant lead being beyond the margin of 0.5% or 10,000 votes (whichever is less) required for a recount, it’s difficult to understand why North Carolina has not been unanimously called for Trump.
Georgia (yet to be called)
While the state of Georgia has not been called by many outlets, they are already headed for a full by-hand recount. Not only that, both Georgia Senate races will be decided by a January runoff, placing control of the U.S. Senate in the balance.
With more than 98% of estimated votes reported, Joe Biden is holding a razor-thin lead over Donald Trump of just over 14,000 votes (0.29%). Another reason for the significant delay is the sheer number of mail-in ballots received. Of the 4,992,537 total votes reported, a whopping 4,005,142 were mail-in ballots, amounting to over 80% of the final tally. However, with Georgia only allowing the receipt of mail-in ballots up to the close of polls on Election Day, it’s difficult to understand the plateau of activity in this pivotal state.
Pennsylvania (called by media on November 7th)
The state of Pennsylvania rapidly became the central must-win state for either candidate on Election Night, with the winner of the state projected to win the entire race. With over 98% of estimated votes reported, Joe Biden holds a lead of over 54,000 votes (0.79%).
There are multiple reasons why the result was delayed in this state. Firstly, the deadline for mail-in ballots to be received was November 6th, three days after the election. With only 31% of counties reporting their absentee votes, the total number of reported mail-in votes is currently 1,237,062, over 18% of the total vote tally. Another reason for potential delay are the multiple rounds of legal challenges launched in the state, including calls for increased access to counting, and a Supreme Court order which directed “Pennsylvania election officials to separate ballots received after Election Day and, if they count them, count them separately.”
Alaska (called by media on November 11th)
In Alaska, with only 78% of estimated votes reported, Donald Trump holds a lead over Joe Biden of more than 44,000 votes (15.6%). Alaska didn’t even start counting mail-in ballots until about a week after the election, meaning that the state was only called for Trump on November 11th — 8 days after Election Day.
The unprecedented logistical challenge of holding a nationwide election during a global pandemic, and the resulting scale of widespread mail-in voting, would obviously have an impact on the counting process. With this in mind, some are asking whether we are right to expect to know the result of a presidential election on Election Night, especially if mail-in voting continues to play a large part in our electoral process.
However, while our society is undeniably impatient, it’s crucial that we never repeat this chaotic process. Not because we are incapable of waiting, but because seemingly endless delays have an irredeemable impact on public confidence in the process.
When some states are called by media outlets and others are ignored, regardless of actual vote counts, it dilutes the legitimacy of the process by needlessly inserting partisanship or subjectivity. This is made far worse when county or state counts are sporadic, oscillating suddenly after hours of inaction, and does nothing to alleviate the concerns of those who already distrust the election process.
The fact is that trust is a fundamental requirement of any successful democratic process, and if we want to repair the damage done, we need to fix the cause of this distrust. Every day that passes with no further information only fuels reasonable concern and conspiratorial conjecture. In simple terms, to avoid this in the future, we should know who is projected to win the election on November 4th, not November 11th.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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