Why Are Pennsylvania’s Election Results Taking So Long to Count?

Getty Election workers count ballots on November 4, 2020, in Philadelphia.

Why are Pennsylvania’s votes taking so long to count? As many states such as Nevada drag on, Pennsylvania is also taking a long time for the full results to come in. When might we know the election results for Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania offers 20 electoral votes, so the state will be a significant boost to whichever candidate wins it. A Pennsylvania victory could clinch the election for former Vice President Joe Biden, though losing Pennsylvania wouldn’t necessarily mean that Biden has lost to President Donald Trump, either.

As of Thursday, November 5, at 6 p.m. Eastern time, Trump had 3,247,822 votes (50.12%) and Biden had 3,157,278 votes (48.73%).

These are the current Pennsylvania presidential election results courtesy of Heavy’s partners at Decision Desk HQ:

And below, courtesy of Decision Desk, is the full Electoral College map:

Pennsylvania received almost 10 times as many mail-in ballots as usual, CNN reportedAlthough many states can begin processing mail-in ballots prior to Election Day, that’s not the case in Pennsylvania, which is the reason for the delayed results.

Ahead of Election Day, Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, negotiated with the Republican-led legislature to allow mail-in ballots to be processed before Election Day, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, but Republicans adjourned the General Assembly without reaching an agreement. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Pennsylvania House Republicans had passed a bill to allow mail-in ballots to be counted before Election Day, but the bill also allowed poll watchers to work in counties where they weren’t registered, a measure that Democrats did not want.

There are also many rules that govern how mail-in ballots are opened and counted. Mail-in ballots must be received within three days of the election in order to be counted in Pennsylvania, and officials then validate the ballot with a registered voter, just as in-person votes are validated, MIT Technology Review reported. Signatures are matched against a database, and envelopes are opened in a legally mandated manner.


Pennsylvania Results Could Be Known Later Thursday or Friday

Pennsylvania votes were originally expected to take until Friday to be counted, The Wall Street Journal reported. However, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said later on Thursday that the majority are expected to be counted by the end of the day, CBS News reported. She said the winner could be known as early as Thursday night, The Washington Post reported.

Trump is leading, but the majority of the ballots that still need to be counted might lean Biden, because they are from more heavily Democratic areas. The Trump campaign has also filed three lawsuits concerning the Pennsylvania vote, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The state was given a three-day extension to count mail-in ballots after Election Day by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Trump’s Campaign Declared a Victory While Millions of Votes Were Still Being Counted

During a press call on Wednesday, Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien said they were declaring victory in Pennsylvania, reported Tessa Berenson, the White House correspondent for Time. Around the same time that Stepien made the announcement to the press, others associated with Trump took to Twitter to make similar proclamations. The president’s son Eric Trump tweeted, “We have won Pennsylvania!” His tweet included a warning from Twitter that official sources had not yet called the race.

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, also declared victory in Pennsylvania on Twitter. At the time these declarations were made, there were still millions of votes waiting to be counted.

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