WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tensions are magnified ahead of Election Day and early voting isn’t slowing down.
According to the US Elections Project, more than 93 million people have already cast their ballots in the U.S. presidential election. On Election Night, when the polls close, results will start trickling in from the East to the West coast.
What You Need To Know
- Two key swing states to watch are Florida and North Carolina
- Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan are three more key states that gave then-2016 candidate Trump the presidency
- One USC expert said red flags for Trump include seeing traditionally Republican states "too close to call"
- Although some mail-in ballot results may be released when polls close, they can give the wrong impression that one candidate has an edge
Two key swing states to watch are Florida and North Carolina. Christian Grose, an associate professor of Political Science and Public Policy at University of Southern California, said that if Vice President Joe Biden flips either of these must-win states for President Trump, he’s almost certain to win the White House.
“If you’re watching the elections, pay attention to the exit polls," said Grose. "They’ll be released afterward, but also, if the states are too close, you’ll probably just have to watch that evening and check the next day, and then possibly the day after. It’s actually how we do our votes here in California — the ballots get counted for many days after they’ve been mailed in.”
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan are three more key states that gave then-2016 candidate Trump the presidency. Grose said that if Trump wins them again this time, it can signal the direction of the race. Unfortunately for the president, these states are slow-counting for mail-in ballots, meaning they could hold up the race for several days. Grose said red flags for Trump include seeing traditionally Republican states "too close to call."
Vice President of Democracy and Government Reform at the Center for American Progress, Sam Berger, broke down the timeline.
“I think it’s likely there will be states that will not be able to be called on Election Night, particularly ones in the Midwest that have a sizable number of mail-in ballots and won’t be able to start that process until Tuesday,” he said.
Berger explained that although some mail-in ballot results may be released when polls close — like in Florida — they can give the wrong impression that one candidate has an edge when, in reality, the remaining mail-in and in-person votes could change the results completely. The same goes if in-persons are counted first.
Overall, the inflow of mail-ins can significantly slow down counting. In 2018, some races took weeks, as was the case in California’s 39th District between Gil Cisneros and Young Kim.
“It’s important for folks to realize that delayed results, particularly during the pandemic, don’t reflect the system isn’t working," said Berger. "They reflect the system is working the way it’s supposed to. Election officials are going to be taking their time, making sure they’re counting every vote that comes in the building.”
Ultimately, Trump’s path to victory depends on certain states — including some that are slow-counting — to win, so Berger said the winner will likely not be called on Election Night.