Although though the midterm elections in the United States were held days ago, the final results are still unknown, with officials around the country warning that it may be weeks before the outcome is known.
Due to a number of variables, including close margins of victory and the fact that Georgia, a crucial Senate battleground, will hold a runoff election, the process has been slowed down.
The dispersed nature of the United States’ electoral system also contributes to delays, as different states have different timelines and procedures for counting mail-in ballots. Since the 2020 presidential election, when then-President Donald Trump sought to declare victory the next morning as votes were still being tallied, calling the ongoing vote count a “fraud” and a “embarrassment,” the topic of delays has been politically sensitive.
This week, Mr Trump has again raised doubt on the process, going to his Truth Social social media site to call many state polls “voter integrity disaster” and accused his political opponents of “trying to steal the election with defective machines and delay”.
Mail-in and Early Voting
Preliminary data from the US Elections Project indicates that over 112.3 million Americans voted in this year’s midterm elections, which is almost 47% of all eligible voters. It’s true that this number is lower than the one from the 2018 midterms, but in several states it appears to have been an all-time high.
Early voting and mail-in ballots brought the overall number of votes cast in this election to 42 million, up from 39.1 million in the previous election in 2018. One of the main causes of delayed vote tally reports is this.
How ballots cast via mail are handled varies from state to state. Eight states, including Pennsylvania, did not allow ballots to be processed until election day. However, ballot processing in Maryland cannot begin until 10:00 a.m. local time on the day after the election, under state regulations.
Recounts and Run-Offs
Recounts, which are conducted in close elections or at the request of a candidate in several states, can also add extra time to the process. Procedures for requesting a recount vary widely from state to state, although they are legal in 41 states and the District of Columbia.
There is a mechanism for automatic recounts in twenty-two states. Both Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker are in a close contest in Georgia, where the threshold for victory is 50% of the vote.
The two major party candidates in this week’s midterm election did not receive enough votes to avoid a runoff on December 6. This situation is a repeat of the state election in 2020.
“Everyone wants to know that we have honest and fair elections and we do,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger stated on November 9. “I urge voters to cast their ballots in this final election.”
We Probably Won’t Know the Winners on Election Night
It will take some time for results to come in for several races on election night. Election night, vote tallies for each candidate may change as officials in some areas continue to tally votes.
“It’s very probable we will know absolutely nothing on election night, and that’s typical,” said David Becker, creator and executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.
Only with large margins or data like exit polling do individuals find out the results on the same day. After polls close, election workers in each precinct report the tallied results to the county’s central election office.
The state hears the outcomes from each county. Oftentimes, when results come in throughout the evening, both the county and the state will provide updates online. Votes cast by mail are still being counted by counties.
As ballots continue to be tabulated tonight and in the days after Election Day, vote totals are likely to change. According to MIT political science professor and expert in election administration Charles Stewart III, that change isn’t out of the ordinary and may be explained by two dynamics.
At this point, millions of Americans will have voted either by mail or in person, and millions more will turn out to do the same. During this time of voting, the US election system has been under greater scrutiny than ever before.
It’s possible that crucial election results won’t be known until later in the week. In this sense, you’re perfectly typical.
Nonetheless, concerns have been raised that a number of candidates who have already planted seeds of doubt about the 2020 election may utilize this period of uncertainty to cast doubt on the validity of the results in 2022.