Experts warned us: The winner of the U.S. presidential election might not be settled on the night of November 3.
They were right. We still do not know who will lead the nation for the next four years. The makeup of Congress also is not clear.
Votes were still being counted through the day on November 4. Most of those votes are in what are called swing states. Those are states that could be won by either party. President Donald Trump is being challenged by former Vice President Joseph Biden. Trump is a Republican. Biden is a Democrat. Both candidates spent a lot of time talking to voters in swing states.
Those states include Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
There are a few reasons the count is taking time.
First, there was a huge turnout of voters. Even before Election Day, more than 100 million people had cast votes by mail or during early voting at the polls. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many voters wanted to avoid crowds and long lines.
Second, votes by mail take longer to count. They must be taken out of envelopes. The signatures on them must be checked.
In some states, that can be done as the ballots come in. Those votes can then be counted faster on Election Day. But other states do not allow that. Officials must wait until Election Day. Those include some of those swing states, such as Pennsylvania.
Several states also allow ballots to come in after Election Day. They must be postmarked by that day. But the votes can be counted up to a few days after polls close.
Trump said states should not count votes after Election Day. He said the morning after Election Day that the ongoing vote count was “a major fraud on our nation.” He said he would file lawsuits to stop it. He claimed he had already won the election.
Biden said the nation should be patient. “It’s not my place nor Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election,” he said. “That’s the decision of the American people.”
The winner will be the first person to get 270 electoral votes. Each state gets as many electoral votes as it has members of Congress. Most states give all their electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most total votes in that state. Two states split their electoral votes. They are Maine and Nebraska.
On the morning of November 4, neither Trump nor Biden had gotten the 270 votes needed to declare victory.
SOURCES: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, THE WASHINGTON POST
From the archive:
Who Won? We May Not Know Election Results for Weeks (10/21/2020)