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Why Pennsylvania might not have election results on Election Night and why it’s okay

According to Tuesday’s statement by the top official in Pennsylvania elections, Pennsylvania will not have any results this November due to a law that limits when mail votes can be processed.

Voters may have to wait again to find out who won key races in battleground states, where the vote count for 2020’s presidential election was delayed several days.

“We must ask for patience again,” Leigh Chapman (Acting Secretary of State in Pennsylvania), told reporters via Zoom.

She said that “official results will be available in a few days”, and predicted that unofficial results wouldn’t be available until Nov. 8. “This delay doesn’t mean that anything is amiss. It is simply a sign that the process in Pennsylvania is functioning as intended and that election officials are doing what they can to count every vote.

Chapman said that the delay was due to the General Assembly of the state refusing to pass legislation that would have allowed counties to start processing mail-in ballots before Election Day.

Processing cannot start until 7 a.m. on the day.

A detailed analysis of partial results allows news organizations to declare winners before official counts are issued. It took four days for Joe Biden to be elected president of Pennsylvania in the 2020 election. This is a result of the thin margins in Pennsylvania, both because of the increase in mail ballot use and how long it has been purple.

The U.S. Supreme Court vacated Tuesday the ruling of an appellate judge that required Pennsylvania counties to count updated votes. However, state rules require voters to date their mail-in envelopes.

Chapman, however, is still allowing undated votes to be counted. He stated Tuesday afternoon in a statement that the Supreme Court decision “wasn’t based on merits of this issue and does not affect the prior decision by the Commonwealth Court in any way.”

Chapman claims that more than one million ballots were requested by mail, and only 5% of them have been returned. She stated that Democrats make up the overwhelming majority of mail-in voters. In 2018, approximately 5 million Pennsylvanians voted in the 2018 midterm elections.

Chapman stated that the state will take a tougher stance against voter intimidation and will require county officials to report any intimidation at drop boxes. Some Republicans have criticized the boxes for encouraging fraud.

Chapman mentioned instances where Berks County sheriff’s deputy asked voters at drop boxes whether they were returning their ballots or another’s. (Pennsylvania law prohibits anyone from returning another person’s ballot, except in specific circumstances).

She said, “My concern is that if there is law enforcement present and if there is questioning voters at drop boxes it could lead to voter intimidation.” Because of this concern, many voters may not decide to return their ballots or show up.

Chapman was asked if she is concerned that Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial hopeful who led the effort in Pennsylvania to challenge the 2020 election results, may use this year’s expected delay in the vote count to question his own race’s results. Chapman declined to answer.

She said that she doesn’t care about the opinions or actions of any candidate, but her job was to make sure every Pennsylvanian is registered to vote and can cast their ballot.

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