The outcome of the presidential race may not be known until the end of the week as several critical battleground states need more time to count the high number of mail-in ballots in the election.
Wisconsin and Michigan may have results on Wednesday morning but Pennsylvania’s results probably won’t be known until Friday.
Compounding the problem are lawsuits expected over disputed ballots, which could drag out the results of the election even longer. Republicans have made it clear they will sue when and where they see necessary.
The delayed results were caused by state laws that limited when mail-in ballots could be counted, record voter turnout, and the hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots that were received.
Election officials deliver bags of ballots to a central count facility on Election Day in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Election workers count ballots in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the state can count ballot up until Nov. 6, meaning the result of the election may not be known until Friday
In Pennsylvania, state law forbids officials from counting mail-in ballots until Election Day. Additionally, the Supreme Court allowed the state to count ballots for three days after Nov. 3 so long as they are postmarked by Election Day.
In all three states, Republican-led state legislatures successfully opposed changing laws to allow earlier vote counting, contributing to the delay in results.
The three states in question make up the so-called ‘blue wall’ – an area of the Midwest Democrats won repeatedly until Trump became the first Republican in more than 20 years to win when he took those three states in the 2016 election.
Their results will decide the presidential election.
The three states represent a combined 46 electoral votes, with 16 from Michigan, 20 from Pennsylvania and 10 from Wisconsin. That’s nearly a fifth of the 270 electoral votes needed for a victory.
Also outstanding is Georgia after a water pipe burst at a center in Fulton County, where Atlanta is located, delayed counting ballots in the highly-Democratic area.
The candidates took different approaches to the delay with Biden urging patience and Trump falsely claiming Democrats were trying to steal the election.
More than 92 million Americans requested mail-in ballots, according to the Election Project. Many states expanded that voting option because of the coronavirus.
Most of those ballots were requested by Democratic voters – President Trump urged his supporters to go to the polls on Election Day – meaning a great deal of the uncounted ballots are expected to break for Biden.
Here is a look at where things stand in those states:
Only 25 per cent of the early votes have been counted.
Philadelphia officials said around 350,000 voters were cast, but only 76,000 were tallied during the day Tuesday. The rest won’t be counted until Wednesday.
‘The counties are working really hard to get [the results] in as soon as possible,’ Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said Tuesday. ‘It’s going to take time.’
Biden’s biggest strongholds in the Keystone State are in Philadelphia and then Pittsburgh – where he and VP nominee Kamala Harris held rallies with Lady Gaga and John Legend Monday night.
Philadelphia in particular is a Democratic stronghold with more than 1.1 million registered voters, which is more than 10 per cent of all the voters in the state.
But Trump has campaigned heavily in the state – he held four rallies there on Saturday alone – and wants to repeat his stunning 2016 win there.
Election workers in Luzerne County, a northeastern county near Scranton, stopped counting mail-in ballots on Tuesday evening and will resume Wednesday, according to county manager David Pedri. He said the county had counted about 26,000 mail-in ballots of the about 60,000 cast.
Election officials begin counting ballots Tuesday night in York County, Pennsylvania, where mail-in ballots cannot be counted until Election Day
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, on Tuesday called on residents to remain calm and patient as they await results.
In a brief one-and-a-half-minute video, he urged Pennsylvanians to ‘take a breath.’
‘Across the state, dedicated county workers are ready to tirelessly make sure everyone’s vote counts,’ the Pennsylvania governor said. ‘But counting that tremendous number of ballots will take more time than we are used to.’
‘We may not know the results today,’ he acknowledged, ‘but I encourage all of us to take a deep breath and be patient.’
‘What is most important is that we have accurate results – even if that takes a little longer,’ Wolf added.
Pennsylvania saw bout 2.5 million of its 9 million registered voters request absentee ballots. As of Tuesday morning, 81 per cent of them had been returned. Any ballot posted marked by Election Day and received by November 6 will be counted.
Detroit, the state’s biggest city and a hub of Democratic voters, won’t have its results known until sometime Wednesday as it experiences record levels of turnout, a good sign for Biden.
Turnout in Motor City, where Biden campaigned with Barack Obama on Friday, is expected to hit 55 per cent – that’s up seven points over the 48 per cent who voted in 2016.
The record number of votes means full results will be known Wednesday, City Clerk Janice Winfrey announced Tuesday night.
Workers with the Detroit Department of Elections process absentee ballots at the Central Counting Board in the TCF Center in Detroit
Statewide, 3.3 million absentee ballots had been cast, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said, but results will take time.
‘We’re on track to be in a position to potentially see a full result of every tabulation in the next 24 hours,’ she announced.
Trump won the state by taking the suburbs – the Macomb and Monroe counties outside of Detroit – but he also won working-class areas in like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which has many white working-class voters.
Biden has concentrated on winning African American voters in the state in urban areas like Flint.
In Milwaukee – the largest population center there and heavily Democratic – is still counting its ballots.
Poll workers process absentee ballots the night of Election Day at Milwaukee Central Count
All of its mail-in ballots have to be counted at a central facility in their entirety before they are reported, meaning zero results from early voting are available.
Julietta Henry, the Milwaukee County Board of Elections Director, announced Tuesday night that the final results will not be completed earlier than 5 am on Wednesday.
Officials noted this was not unusual and there was no foul play.
‘It is in no way, shape or form unusual for jurisdictions to still be counting into the morning,” said Meagan Wolfe, the chief elections official for the state of Wisconsin.
In Georgia, a southern state Democrats hoped to flip, Atlanta also has delayed results after a burst water pipe at a vote center causing counting delays.
No ballots were damaged but it has delayed them being counted.
Fulton County, where is Atlanta is located, is Georgia’s most populous and a reliably Democratic county.
Trump’s lead in Georgia stood at just 118,000 votes, in a state he carried in 2016, with 91 per cent of precincts reporting.
But Democrats believe the state is closer than it appears – one reason Biden said early Wednesday he is ‘still in the game’ there.
But with just 79 per cent of the DeKalb County vote in, Biden was leading 83 to 16, by a margin of more than 200,000 votes. He could pick up several thousand more votes when the balance comes in.
Biden was running up the score by 73 to 26 per cent in Fulton County, about 289,000 to 105,000 votes, but with another quarter of the vote still outstanding, this could lead to another 100,000 votes coming in, with Biden earning up to three quarters of them. This would have him exceeding the nearly 200,000 vote advantage Hillary Clinton got out of the county.