Why is it taking Pennsylvania and North Carolina so long to...

Why is it taking Pennsylvania and North Carolina so long to...
Why is it taking Pennsylvania and North Carolina so long to...
With the US presidential election count up to the third day, two states are way behind the rest of the country.

While six states are still waiting for a result, some will be finished sooner than others, and the battlefield states of Pennsylvania and North Carolina will continue to count votes for a few days.

President Donald clinched victory ahead of schedule in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, despite the fact that neither the networks nor the Associated Press had awarded him the Rust Belt.

Protesters on the steps of the City County Building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Source: Gene J. Puskar via AP

During the day, the incumbent’s leadership was cut in half from around 600,000 votes and the race has tightened today to around 165,000. State election officials say it could be a few more days before the “overwhelming majority” of votes is counted.

A similar situation prevails in North Carolina, where Trump has a lead of just over 1% with 95% of the registered votes. Although the end line appears to be in sight, state officials have announced that they will not announce more results until next week.

Why is this taking so long?

Holding an election amid a pandemic brought a number of new challenges, and some US states have proven to be more adept at dealing with them than others.

Postal voting has exceeded all previous records this year. Around 100 million voters cast their votes before election day.

In some states, like Florida, the process worked very well as the meters were able to get votes early once they were received.

State law in Pennsylvania prevented this, which meant that officials could not begin processing ballots until 7 a.m. on election day. Efforts to start counting early have been blocked by the Republican-controlled legislature in Pennsylvania.

Florida has a long tradition of early voting due to its large elderly population and vulnerability to hurricanes. Pennsylvania did not previously have such a tradition, but this year the state received 2.6 million postal ballots. Officials say this is ten times the number of postal ballot papers that are cast during a normal election.

Keystone State also allows mail-in votes to be received by tomorrow if postmarked by election day. This has become a point of contention for the Trump campaign, which is desperately clinging to its narrow lead in crucial state.

Officials opening postal ballot papers in Pennsylvania.

Source: SIPA USA / PA Images

The campaign said it would challenge late-arriving postal ballots to the Supreme Court. However, the votes are unlikely to change the outcome in the state, as election officials have indicated that only a few hundred late votes were received.

Nine Pennsylvania counties contributed to the delays by deciding not to start counting postal ballot papers until Wednesday.

With roughly 90% of the votes reported this afternoon (Irish time), Trump’s lead had dropped to around 165,000 votes, a 1.6% margin.

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North Carolina

Trump also claimed to have won North Carolina, which is a must for him if he is to keep the White House. In reality, the race is currently too short to count with around 117,000 mail-in votes.

In a pattern that has prevailed in the US, Biden outperforms Trump in the mail-in votes, which means the remaining ballots could turn the state around in his favor. That result would be only the second time North Carolina has endorsed a Democrat as president since 1976.

The southeastern state has an even longer deadline for accepting postal ballot papers, which will be counted, if received before November 12th (next Thursday), provided they are postmarked by November 3rd.

Another unknown is how many preliminary ballot papers were recorded. These are ballot papers that have a question mark hanging over the voter’s eligibility to vote that must be resolved before it counts.

The problems can arise for a number of reasons, including the name of the voter who does not appear in the polling roll or the voter who does not have ID.

In the 2016 election, North Carolina recorded 61,000 preliminary ballot papers, of which around 27,000 were counted. Officials said the total number of preliminary ballots will be known later today.

North Carolina appears in no rush to end the census as the state has signaled that additional results are unlikely to be reported by next week.

“With very few exceptions, North Carolina’s numbers won’t change until November 12th or 13th,” said State Board of Elections chief Karen Brinson Bell.

Fortunately, the election result will likely be announced much earlier.

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