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USA: It may take time for the election results to come


It’s election night. Voting has been closed for hours. Why don’t Americans know the winners?

In 2020, President Donald Trump declared that the lack of final results on election night could be a sign of something serious and used it to assert without evidence that the election was stolen: “We don’t want Let them get more ballots at four in the morning and add them to the list,” he said.

However, the reality is that the results published on election night are not official and are always incomplete. They inevitably change when more ballots are counted.

Unlike many countries, elections in the United States are highly decentralized, complex, and feature a long list of local measures and races for city council seats for president and congressman. Some states allow local elections offices to process mail-in ballots several weeks before Election Day, which includes signature review and verification of identity information. In other states this process may not begin until or shortly before Election Day, meaning those ballots may not be counted until the next day or even after.

This is why the results are not always known on election night.

Should we know the winners before we go to bed?

Republicans, in particular, point to perceived delays in receiving results as a reason to distrust the integrity of the election.

“We need to reform our elections so that all Arizonans, whether Democrat, Independent or Republican, go to bed on election night knowing who the winner is and satisfied that it was a fair election. Our Don’t have it right now,” Kari Lake, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, tweeted in August.

Not knowing the winner on election night says nothing about the fairness of the election or the accuracy of the results. Under Arizona law, all ballots, including mailed ballots, must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day, but officials have 20 days to complete counting them.

In Nevada, counties have four days to count late mail-in ballots and voters have two more days to correct mail-in ballots that are returned with errors or missing information on envelopes. Come This week, elections officials in the county that includes Reno reminded voters of that extended timeline, saying official and final results aren’t likely until the actual balloting on Nov. 18.

“It’s definitely going to take longer than the day (after the election) for the final results to come in,” said Jamie Rodriguez, Washoe County’s acting registrar of voters.

Why can’t we be like France?

A tight primary contest for the Senate last May in Pennsylvania drew comparisons to the French presidential election, which took place a few weeks earlier.

In a social media post two days after the Pennsylvania primary, Trump questioned why it was taking so long to know the winner: “France, same day on all papers, had numbers verified overnight,” Trump wrote. “America has become a laughing stock when it comes to elections.”

But in France there was only one contest on the ballot. Presidential and parliamentary elections are held on different dates. In Pennsylvania, the Republican Party’s primary election for the U.S. Senate was one of several races, including races for governor, attorney general, Congress, and the state legislature.

Elections in the United States are also not nationalized, but are overseen by the states and run by local officials at the county or township level. There are approximately 10,000 jurisdictions in the United States that are charged with overseeing the electoral process.

For presidential elections in France, the Ministry of the Interior distributes election-related materials, including ballots, while local authorities coordinate polling station staff. France also has a Constitutional Council which decides on complaints regarding elections and announces the results.

Noah Pretz, a former clerk of elections in Cook County, Illinois, said quick results are possible, but the United States has “decided to make voting accessible to everyone and allow us to vote on everything.” He noted that dozens of offices are typically included on the ballot in the United States, unlike some countries where voters may support only one party whose leader then fills many of those offices.

Voters in France usually choose from a list of local candidates affiliated with a party. The list of candidates who win the most endorsements will receive the most seats on city and regional councils.

“It’s a fundamentally different vision of democracy,” Pretz said.

Also, voters in France can vote by proxy – designating someone else to vote for them if they cannot vote in person on Election Day – which is not allowed in the United States. .

Do mail ballots affect score reporting?

they can do. Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, states were expanding the use of mail-in ballots and early in-person voting to reduce lines and provide more flexibility for voters on Election Day.

Mail-in ballots are subject to various security checks that vary from state to state. Some require the voter’s signature or identification information to check against their registration files, while others require witnesses or notaries to verify the voter’s identity.

In most states, including Florida and Georgia, the verification process for mail-in ballots begins well in advance of Election Day, providing a major advantage in reporting results early. Not so in some states that are political battleground states. Officials in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin cannot begin that work until Election Day, while Michigan officials can start just two days before. This means that most of the results reported from these states on Election Night will be from in-person voting on Election Day or during the early voting period.

“It takes time to count the votes and report the results,” said Leah Chapman, acting secretary of state in Pennsylvania. “Election officials focus more on accuracy than speed.”

What other factors can delay results?

While most states require mail-in ballots to be received on or before Election Day, 19 states provide a grace period until ballots are mailed after Election Day. Such ballots can be received in California up to seven days later.

If a large number of ballots arrive at local elections offices on Election Day, voters may not know the result of a close race for several days.

It may also change results over time. If Democratic voters dominate mail-in voting, while Republican voters mostly vote in-person, this may mean that early results favor a Republican candidate, who then sees that mail-in ballots are being used. The gains fade as the count fades. They come late.

Will a manual count help speed up the process?

No. All ballots are counted by hand, mainly in small towns in the northeast of the country. For locations with multiple ballots, experts agree it requires more time and is more susceptible to human error. Manual recounting is used in post-election reviews to ensure the accuracy of tabulating machines, but usually involves just a sample of ballots and is done without pressure to report results quickly.

Republican candidates and activists have pushed for manual counts based largely on conspiracy theories that voting systems were rigged to steal the 2020 election. There is no evidence of widespread fraud or machine tampering.

Also, manual counting alone would increase the reporting of results by several days.

Cobb County, Georgia, conducted a state-mandated manual recount following the 2020 election. It took hundreds of thousands of people five days to count the votes for president on approximately 397,000 ballots. A county elections official estimated that it would take 100 days to count every contest on every ballot using the same procedures.

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