Trump Disagrees with Counting Ballots Post-Election. But Is It Legal?

With the upcoming Presidential Election, all eyes are on the two candidates as they reach the final days of their campaigns. One of the most recent statements made by Donald Trump has caused yet another series of discussion among specialists and general public alike.

More specifically, the current U.S. President said the following:

‘It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate, and I don’t believe that’s by our laws.’

Come and think about it, I personally know some fellow Americans who believe that the elections literally end on Nov 3. After all, that’s why they call it ‘Election Day,’ right?

Wrong.

 

Official results are NOT on Nov. 3

Edward B. Foley, constitutional law professor at Ohio State University, explains that there have never been any official results showcased on Election Night.

Election Night data is very important as people can make a more precise estimation on who wins the election. The American media believes these projections are strong enough to announce a winner right on that night, hence the news headlines we usually see post-Election Night.

However, this result is not official.

After the Election Day, officials from every state still need to deliver certification of the canvass of returns, which depends on the law established in each state. This process takes time – and may take even more time now that so many Americans sent their ballots in mail or voting early in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most experts believe that only a notable difference in voting numbers can allow people to make assumptions on the winner; even so, there is no certainty in any prediction whatsoever.

 

Absentee ballots

The National Conference on State Legislatures says that 19 U.S. states have laws which allow ballots to be counted even if they arrive after Election Day, as long as they are postmarked on Election Day. This year, numbers could be very different because of pending litigation.

If there will be a tight race, such late-arriving ballots can be decisive in choosing the 2020 Presidential Election Winner.

 

Donald Trump’s tweet was removed

As I am writing this post, Twitter has removed President Trump’s above statement explaining that it might harm the integrity of the Presidential Election. However, specialists were quick in reacting to the false information published by Donald Trump.

Ellen Weintraub, commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, responded to Mr. Trump’s comments on Twitter right away. She briefly explained that the Election Day is not a ‘reality show’ with a stunning reveal at the end – although the media might make it seem that way.

Aside from gathering and counting all the ballots cast by U.S. citizens, certifying an election result also takes at least several days after the Election Day. In more complicated cases, it might even take weeks until a state can certify its final result.

 

November 3 still matters

If Donald Trump is right about one thing, he could be right about the importance of the Election Day. This is the last day people can cast their ballot – and a reminder that you should too, if you haven’t already.

However, if you postmark a mail-in ballot for November 3rd or earlier, it will still be counted as a vote although the state receives it after the Election Day. For example, Mississippi legally accepts absentee ballots even five business days after Election Day if they were postmarked before Nov. 3. Meanwhile, Illinois is counting ballots which arrive within 14 days post-Election Day if they were postmarked correctly.

Simply said, it’s literally impossible to know who officially wins the Presidential race on November 3rd because many states won’t even finish counting votes by that time.

 

The clock is ticking, but there’s still some time left. Who will you vote for?

 

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