In reality, the scenario Mr. Trump is outlining — every vote in a modern election being “counted, tabulated, finished” by midnight — is not possible and never has been. No state ever reports final results on election night, and no state is legally expected to.

Americans are accustomed to knowing who won on election night because news organizations project winners based on partial counts, not because the counting is actually completed that quickly. These race calls mean Candidate A is far enough ahead that, given the number of outstanding ballots and the regions those ballots are coming from, Candidate B would realistically be unable to close the gap.

The difference this year is not the timing of final results — those will come, as always, by the certification deadlines each state has set, ranging from two days after the election in Delaware to more than a month after in California. The difference, rather, is when news organizations are likely to have enough information to make accurate projections.

If, as Mr. Trump suggested, courts were to force states to stop counting after Nov. 3, it would be an extraordinary subversion of the electoral process and would disenfranchise millions of voters who cast valid, on-time ballots.