At the Washington Post, Amy Gardner offers us a preview of what we can expect to happen on November 3rd when the general election takes place. Or, as the author puts it, what may not happen. Our recent experiences with primary elections that were conducted in large part through the use of mail-in ballots have given us a taste of what that process would look if it’s ramped up to a national scale. Some races, such as the Baltimore mayoral race, took up to a week before a winner was declared. And unless either Trump or Biden wins in a landslide, the same thing could happen with the presidential race.
After voters in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada went to the polls this month, some races hung in the balance for days as election officials waded through thousands of absentee ballots.
On Tuesday, a similar scenario is expected to play out in Kentucky and New York, where officials have already announced that some results will not be available for as long as a week.
In all five states, officials have contended with an avalanche of mail ballots as voters seek to avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus. It was a fresh illustration of how the pandemic is transforming the way elections are conducted in the United States.
It is also a stark preview of what’s coming on Nov. 3 — or, more accurately, what may not be coming: an election night result in the race for the White House.
We’ve gotten used to the idea of going to bed on election night knowing who the next president was going to be. The same goes for most of the down-ballot races. There are exceptions, of course, such as when a race turns out to be close enough to trigger an automatic recount. But the last time we had any such confusion over the presidential race was Bush v. Gore in 2000. (Cue the nightmare clips of people inspecting dangling chads.)