Expect this year’s presidential election to not be decided on Election Day

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With less than a week away until Election Day 2020, experts are warning voters that a majority of races may not declare a winner on election night.

Many Americans have decided to vote absentee or to fill out mail-in ballots because of the pandemic.

Dr. Kimberly Martin, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Georgia Southern University, says the differing state laws about when to verify and count each ballot will cause delays.

“Different states have different laws when it comes to how to count their absentee ballots,” said Martin. “States like Georgia [and] Alabama, once they receive the ballots, they can do the signature verification, but they can’t actually count them until the day of the election.”

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spoke to WSAV NOW and said over 1.5 million people requested absentee ballots.

Even though state law prevents his office from tabulating the results of those ballots until Election Day, he and his staff have been working to verify the signatures on the back of the ballots to speed along the process.

“By Wednesday morning, Wednesday at noon, we should have most of the races determined,” said Raffensperger.

Dr. Martin says it’s important to remember that even though most Americans are used to going to bed on election night and waking up knowing who the president is, that’s unlikely to happen this year.

“This time I would say to people, make sure that you are prepared that this might take a little bit longer and also be patient moving forward,” said Martin.

She says any candidate cannot really declare victory on election night this year because of the delay in counting absentee ballots.

Learn more about the laws regarding absentee and mail-in ballots here.

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