Election Day is here and the race to the finish is in motion. However, there are some indications that the race could be one of fits and starts. As of Noon today, there have already been reports of issues with voter machines, poll watchers, ballot counting, and rule-breaking at polls. No doubt the extraordinary circumstances of a much-contested election and Covid- 19 have also added strain to the system.
Record levels of early voters have shown up either in person or by mail in vote. Due to Covid-19, mass mail-in voting has hit unprecedented numbers. Mass mail-in voting is different from absentee voting. A useful explanation of the two can be found here.
Various states have extended their early voting and others have decided to extend the counting of ballots. These record numbers may well burden election systems in key states to process and tally ballots. And never mind the threats by both campaigns to send in their armies of lawyers in contested elections across the country that will surely challenge the patience of the American voter.
As of today, the U.S. Elections Project website estimates that "voters have cast 73.1% of the total votes counted in the 2016 general election." In addition, the following statistics can be found on the site.
- Voters have requested a total of 92,074,453 ballots in the reporting states
- Early Votes: 100,831,066
- In-Person Votes: 35,901,179
- Mail Ballots Returned: 64,929,887
- Mail Ballots Outstanding: 27,144,566
An article posted on cnbc.com lays out the timelines and deadlines for key states for the processing and counting of ballots.
So what are people experiencing? Yesterday, in Texas, Law Enforcement Today reported calling an "emergency meeting...one day before elections because electronic ballot-scanning machines incorrectly rejected thousands of ballots in Tarrant County, Texas. The ballot machines have rejected about one-third of the mail-in ballots returned by voters."
County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia explained that the "problem began on Sunday, October 25 as election workers began opening mail-in ballots and feeding them into the scanners" due to the poor print quality of the barcodes on the ballots. Reporter, William Joy, of ABC local affiliate WFAA explains the issue in his Tweet thread below:
Essentially, the ballots must be copied by volunteers and recounted manually. The article states that "the process usually involves ballot board members, from more than one political party, manually filling out a new ballot that matches the one that was damaged or unreadable."
Fox News reports that in Georgia, New York, and Missouri, the U.S. Department of Homeland officials are seeing issues with voting machines that are not due to cyberattacks but are, rather, "typical challenges with election technology." However, a follow-up report by Politico cybersecurity reporter, Eric Geller--at least on the incident in Georgia, states that the failure was due to human error.
Several polling places in Pennsylvania were found in violation of election regulations. In Pennsylvania, "campaigning or electioneering may not occur in the polling place or within 10 feet of the door." And that includes political signage and poll workers wearing political party attire.
In addition, today in Philadelphia a city notorious for election shenanigans, a poll watcher seemed to be denied access to his post.
And if all of that were not enough, there have been reports of polls in Pennsylvania running out of ballots.
It is almost a sure thing that this election will pose its share of challenges given what we have already experienced in 2020. The good news is that there are resources for the troubled voter.
Many say that the election results will not be known tonight. Some say the results could be delayed for weeks. Whatever happens, the 2020 election will indeed be one to remember.