• Mon. Nov 23rd, 2020

How mail-in voting could delay results in the U.S. election for days — or weeks | CBC News


Oct 28, 2020

For most of us, 2020 has introduced an countless provide of first-time experiences and never-before-seen occasions, all due to the coronavirus. The U.S. election on Nov. Three shall be no exception. 

The pandemic and considerations round voting in individual are believed to be driving extra Americans than ever to vote by mail. 

At least 70 million Americans have already forged ballots — a report — and about two thirds of them by mail, together with in key battleground states.

In Wisconsin, greater than 5 occasions as many mail-in ballots have been forged in contrast with the quantity in 2016. North Carolina has seen practically triple the variety of mail-in votes up to now. For the primary time, voters in lots of states can cite the coronavirus as a purpose to vote absentee by mail, or they’ll select to forged absentee ballots with out giving any purpose in any respect.

A Miami-Dade County elections division worker takes a cart of mail-in ballots to be loaded onto a truck for transport to a neighborhood United States Postal Service workplace on Oct. 1, 2020, in Doral, Fla. (Wilfredo Lee/The Associated Press)

More than two dozen states have additionally modified their absentee/mail-in voting guidelines in response to the pandemic, making it simpler to vote by mail. This consists of every little thing from mechanically sending out ballots to all eligible voters — whether or not they have requested them or not — to extending the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots. 

Add to the combination the truth that each state — and in some instances, counties inside these states — has completely different guidelines about processing and counting mail-in ballots. Many won’t have a closing rely on election evening.

In some instances, ballots do not even have to arrive till a number of days after Nov. Three to be included within the official rely. 

It might all add as much as a really lengthy vote-counting course of, lasting days and even weeks, if the election is shut. 

Here’s what you might want to find out about mail-in ballots forward of Nov. 3. 

What is mail-in voting? 

“Mail-in voting” is a little bit of a blanket time period. In the United States in 2020, it will possibly imply any of of the next issues:

Five states have common mail-in voting. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington repeatedly mail out ballots to all registered voters and did so earlier than COVID-19. They are usually the states with the perfect practices round mail-in voting due to their expertise in dealing with mail-in ballots. 

Another 4 states — California, Nevada, New Jersey and Vermont, plus the District of Columbia — switched to primarily vote-by-mail in 2020 due to the pandemic and mechanically despatched ballots to all registered voters.   

Only 5 states are nonetheless making it difficult for voters to vote by mail in 2020 by requiring a purpose to take action, and COVID-19 shouldn’t be thought-about a legitimate one. Those 5 are Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. 

The remaining 36 states are permitting voters to request mail ballots with no excuse obligatory. This is usually referred to as absentee balloting — the place the voter should proactively request their absentee poll.

WATCH | What early voting says in regards to the U.S. presidential race:

U.S. political scientist Cal Jilson says as much as 60% of complete votes may very well be forged earlier than election day on Nov. 3. 6:38

It’s referred to as ‘mail-in,’ however there are different choices

Despite the logical expectation {that a} mail-in poll must undergo the mail, there are literally a number of other ways a mail-in poll may be submitted. They may be: 

  • Mailed in.
  • Dropped in a registered/licensed drop field, a field that resembles a mailbox, which is positioned someplace indoors or out in the neighborhood, the place voters can drop their ballots.
  • Handed over in individual throughout early voting.  
  • Handed over in individual on election day. 

A voter inserts his poll into an official poll drop field on Oct. 20, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press)

How are mail-in votes counted?

This is the place issues begin to get difficult.

Each state has its personal algorithm that govern when and the way mail-in ballots are processed and counted. Often, the method begins with a verification of the signature on the poll envelope to the signature on report to ensure it is a match, based on the National Conference of State Legislatures. Depending on the state, that course of can start wherever from 29 days to 14 days to a few days earlier than election day — or not till election day itself. Counting can solely be finished after a poll is processed. 

Elections officers in Maryland put on masks and gloves whereas opening mail-in ballots Oct. 12 within the first canvassing of ballots for the 2020 election. (Colleen McGrath/The Herald-Mail through The Associated Press)

And once more, the principles round when ballots may be counted varies based on every state. While no state will disclose outcomes earlier than election day, right here is when some key swing states are allowed to start counting mail-in ballots:

  • Arizona: 14 days earlier than election day.
  • Colorado: 15 days earlier than election day.
  • Florida: 22 days earlier than election day.
  • Georgia: 7 a.m. native time on election day.
  • Michigan: Before polls shut on election day.
  • Minnesota: After polls shut on election day. 
  • New Hampshire: After polls shut on election day. 
  • North Carolina: 14 days earlier than election day. 
  • Ohio: Any time earlier than election day. 
  • Pennsylvania: 7 a.m. native time on election day.
  • Texas: When polls open on election day.
  • Wisconsin: After polls open on election day. 

The full listing of when ballot-counting can start by state may be discovered right here. 

WATCH | Why some Americans face roadblocks on the subject of voting:

The presidential race in Texas is nearer than it’s been for 50 years, however some are involved in regards to the roadblocks going through many citizens, which some think about voter suppression. 4:20

And one thing else to contemplate: this race is already thought to be essentially the most litigated in American historical past, due largely to the huge growth of mail and absentee voting.

Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, a former U.S. Justice Department elections official, has tallied round 260 lawsuits arising from the coronavirus. The Republication National Committee says it is concerned in additional than 40 lawsuits, and an internet site operated by a chief Democrat lawyer lists lively instances price watching in about 15 states.

Which states permit ballots obtained after election day to be counted?

It’s virtually an excellent break up. As of this writing, 22 states plus the District of Columbia will rely mail-in ballots obtained after election day, offering they’re postmarked on or earlier than Nov. 3. Some states have made adjustments to their regular legal guidelines for the 2020 election due to COVID-19 and the anticipated larger numbers of mail-in ballots. 

An E.E. Ward Trucking worker delivers clean absentee ballots to the U.S. Postal Service in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 5. (Jay LaPrete/The Associated Press)

Key battleground states that may rely ballots obtained after Nov. Three embody Pennsylvania, Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas.

The different 28 states won’t settle for any mail-in ballots that arrive after Nov. 3, it doesn’t matter what date they’re postmarked. 

Some states are nonetheless in court docket over deadlines, suggesting how contentious this concern is with solely days to go earlier than the vote. 

Naked ballots

It’s solely an enormous concern in a single state proper now — however that state is battleground Pennsylvania, so it issues.

Pennsylvania is one among a handful of states that repeatedly ship voters two envelopes to return their ballots for all elections, together with primaries or state-level votes. Voters should first put their accomplished poll right into a so-called secrecy envelope after which put that envelope into an outer addressed envelope earlier than mailing it.

Given the excessive quantity of individuals voting by mail this yr, most of the states that use secrecy envelopes are waiving the requirement or say they are going to rely votes with out them anyway.

Not Pennsylvania. 

WATCH | A Philadelphia metropolis commissioner explains the naked-ballot rule:

City Commissioner of Philadelphia Lisa Deeley demonstrates how simply ballots may be excluded if they’re ‘bare,’ or not packaged appropriately. 0:59

In September, a state court docket dominated that ballots returned with out each envelopes shall be dismissed as “naked” and won’t be counted. 

There is a priority that with half of all Pennsylvania voters anticipated to vote by mail, as many as 100,000 mailed ballots may very well be rejected statewide.

Trump gained Pennsylvania in 2016 by about 45,000 votes. 

Ballot harvesting  

Despite sounding considerably nefarious, poll harvesting has been round for many years and is authorized in 26 states. It principally implies that another person can acquire a voter’s absentee poll and ship it to an official drop-off location. 

Initially, solely a voter’s direct member of the family might ship their poll below the legislation, however in some states, that has been expanded to permit anybody to do it. About a dozen states restrict the variety of ballots an individual can acquire on behalf of others. Parties have used it to encourage individuals who cannot get to polling stations or to a mailbox to vote.

A poll in Sacramento, Calif., reveals the portion the place the voter must authorize one other individual to deposit it on their behalf. Allowing another person to gather a voter’s absentee poll and ship it to an official drop-off location is named poll harvesting. (Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press)

Why is it a sizzling matter in 2020? Well, in California, the state Republican Party used the idea to arrange unauthorized “drop boxes” the place individuals might drop off their ballots. State officers mentioned they have been unlawful and ordered them eliminated by Oct. 15. The California Republican Party refused, citing the legislation legalizing poll harvesting in California. 

By Oct. 16, nevertheless, California’s secretary of state mentioned the state Republican Party eliminated the unstaffed, unofficial packing containers. Republicans confirmed they’d yanked packing containers that have been improperly labelled “official,” however mentioned they’d change how the packing containers have been labelled to keep away from confusion and proceed to make use of them below the state’s poll harvesting guidelines. 

On Oct. 18, an official poll drop field was set on hearth in Los Angeles, and as many as 100 ballots have been destroyed. The incident is being investigated as arson. 

This photograph from a video supplied by the native ABC affiliate in Los Angeles reveals an official poll drop field on Oct. 19, the morning after it was set on hearth in Baldwin Park, Calif. (ABC7 Los Angeles through The Associated Press)

What do you need to know in regards to the U.S. election? Your questions assist inform our protection. Email us at [email protected]


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