Voting counters are an integral part of the legal strategies of both campaigns. Preparations are under way to dispute ballot papers, verify signatures and witness requests, and “cure” invalid ballots in states where it is allowed. If a battlefield state becomes a razor-thin competition, the battle could end in court.
The job of election observers, who include trained volunteers and lawyers, is to document every detail and to dispute a ballot if there is a potential problem. While their presence isn’t new, campaign experts fear that the extra oversight – combined with an influx of postal ballot papers – could lead to unnecessary delays that fuel doubt and chaos when it comes to a close election that depends on the inbox voting to determine the outcome.
And with millions more people dropping ballots in the mail thanks to the Covid-1
The prospect of a delayed result comes from Trump and the White House proposing that the presidential contest result should be announced on election night. This rhetoric contradicts what election officials and experts want to prepare the public for: Voting totals continue. Election night is never official, and the high percentage of postal ballots means that results come in more slowly, so a winner may not be known for days, if not weeks is.
“The longer it takes to count these ballots, the greater the uncertainty, and those who spread disinformation and even foreign opponents could use that uncertainty to create more divisions and reduce trust,” said David Becker, founder the non-partisan Center for Election Innovation and Research.
Republican National Committee chief attorney Justin Riemer said the party is investing in legal efforts to ensure the process “goes smoothly” and that the law is upheld.
“We’re not there to hinder the process. If you’re supposed to check signatures, you have to check signatures. We understand that there is an urgent need to count ballots, but it needs to be done right,” Riemer told CNN. “We cannot step aside if the officials fail to comply with the law. One unfortunate consequence of action is that it could slow the process down.”
The presidential campaign lawyer up
Both Democrats and Republicans have spent millions preparing for litigation, which is expected both before and after the November 3rd election.
“We are monitoring these potential situations and are well prepared to respond if necessary,” said a Biden campaign official.
“It is fair to say that 2020 will be the largest election observation program that the party and the presidential campaign had,” said Riemer. “We are prepared with volunteers and lawyers at these central counting locations, starting from the time the vote is processed.”
The potential of the two parties contesting the results could begin soon after the polls are completed. Democrats have warned that polling night results could be misleading as a higher percentage of Republican voters plan to vote in person, while more Democratic voters say they will vote by mail, according to polls from CNN and others.
That means states could have Trump in front of them when voters go to bed on election night only to see the results shift in the direction of Democratic candidate Joe Biden as more postal ballot papers are tabulated.
It’s a phenomenon that emerged in several close races during the 2018 midterm elections that led Trump to falsely question the process. He tweeted that Florida “must keep up with election night results” as Senate competition tightened due to absentee votes, and suggested that Arizona hold a new election after Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took the lead in the Senate race.
Biden said Monday that he was concerned that Trump would try to do the same in November. When asked if he was confident that all the votes would be counted, the former vice president told reporters, “I am confident that Trump will try not to do this, but I am confident that the American public will insist. “
How long it takes for a winner to be announced in the presidential election depends a lot on how short the election is. In modern presidential politics, a winner is usually – but not always – named on election night. In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry didn’t give in until the next day, waiting for the results to hit Ohio in full. In 2000, thanks to a lengthy recount in Florida, the presidential contest lasted more than a month after Election Day, the court battle that accompanied it.
RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens cited the Florida recount in 2000 as an example of why there shouldn’t be a long delay after the election. “I don’t think the 36 days in 2000 were of any service to anyone,” said Ahrens.
“You could really screw up the job”
Some major battlefield states – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania – do not legally begin counting postal ballots until election day. This only increases the bet for a possible delay until it is known who won.
Michigan is debating changing its postal ballot counting laws. The Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that gave election workers an extra day to process postal ballot papers. The legislation is still pending in the house.
Once the count begins, several states, such as B. Wisconsin, the challengers, to be in close proximity to the polling officer who is tabulating the votes, and they may wonder if a ballot is valid. Wisconsin election official Reid Magney said the state has historically had lawyers from both sides in central locations like Milwaukee and Green Bay, which are also open to the public.
“In campaigns, people can look over their shoulders,” said Magney.
But that can slow things down.
“If you have a ballot that typically takes 20-30 seconds but takes 1-2 minutes because someone is challenging each ballot – that makes it exponentially and you could really mess the job,” Becker said.
With more mail-in votes likely to come from Democrats, GOP attorneys are likely to be able to question the legitimacy of mail-in votes. Such challenges may be due to a signature mismatch or a lack of information such as a witness signature, which is required in some states.
The Democrats, in turn, are preparing to face these Republican challenges. They are also preparing efforts to quickly “cure” ballots deemed invalid, which can be done after election day in 13 states, according to the National Conference of Legislators.
Voting officers at the central counting locations are usually well trained, Becker said, adding that campaigns need “a sound basis” to challenge a vote. “You can’t dispute every ballot,” he said.
Magney said campaign officials and the general public were allowed to watch the process, but they couldn’t go too far. “If someone causes a disturbance,” he said, “they could be kicked out.”