It seems to be taking a really long time to get the final results of the Presidential election. The election was over a week ago, and we’re still waiting to get all the ballots counted in many states, even though those states have already been called. Clinton’s leading the popular vote, but there are still million of uncounted ballots. Why is it taking so long?
Here’s what you need to know.
There’s no national standard for counting votes; the rules differ from state-to-state. Some states are putting together official results now and others are still counting ballots. States set up their own deadlines for when all ballots must be counted and processed. In fact, The Nation reported that some vote-by-mail ballots may not even arrive until a few days after November 8, holding up the process even more.
Provisional ballots also take some time to process. These are ballots given to voters who couldn’t show that they were eligible to vote, either because they didn’t have the right ID, were at the wrong polling location, or another reason. These ballots must all be verified and, in some cases, voters are given a certain amount of time to turn in additional information that verifies their right to vote. Damaged ballots that can’t be read by machines are also being counted during this time.
In California, for example, there are still 3.5 million unprocessed ballots as of November 16. These include vote-by-mail ballots, provisional ballots, and other ballots such as damaged ballots.
As results continue to come in, there’s a very slight chance that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump could still win or lose states where the numbers were very close. Clinton is currently leading Trump by more than a million votes, a greater lead than any other presidential candidate has had while also losing the electoral college. She’s even surpassed some other candidates in her total popular votes. She’s gotten more votes than Bill Clinton got in 1996 and 1992, according to 270toWin.
It’s unclear when all the uncounted ballots will finally be either counted or deemed ineligible. But with the electoral college election coming on December 20, hopefully we’ll wrap this up soon.