Indecision 2020: What to expect about ballot returns on Election Night

Indecision 2020: What to expect about ballot returns on Election Night
Those in the know say November 3 will likely be the beginning, not the end, of the vote count.

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s time to redefine Election Day. Those in the know say November 3 will likely be the beginning, not the end, of the vote count.

“Not happening people. Sorry,” said Kirk Showalter, City of Richmond General Voter Registrar.

Richmond’s General Voter Registrar isn’t joking around. There’s a good chance we won’t know who won on election night.

“It could be a week before we have any definitive results,” said Showalter.

Showalter says that delay in reporting results could be a result of absentee voting. Changes to the law now allows those ballots more time to arrive by mail. The number of people wanting to vote by mail is dramatically increasing due to COVID-19 concerns at the polls.

“If it’s a lot to ballots and you have a close race it could make the determination,” said Showalter.

This week, the state said more than 790,000 absentee voting applications were received, with even more expected. In 2016, the last presidential election, the total absentee vote count stood at 566,948.

“Republicans are inclined to show up on Election Day partly because Donald trump has urged them not to cast mail-in votes and to go vote in-person on Election Day,” said Larry Sabato, UVa Center for Politics Executive Director. “Trump is somewhat likely at least to win that Election Day vote but Biden’s vote is going to be heavily concentrated in the absentee and mail-in vote.”

Political analysts like Sabato say if only 40% of the vote is in on election night, that’s a sign campaigns across the state will be burning the midnight oil.

“If we have a close election, like 2016, or god forbid 2000 with the Bush-Gore recount in Florida, we will not know that evening and we will not have an election night, we will have an election week or an election month or two,” said Sabato. “Let’s hope it doesn’t happen. It probably won’t but it could.”

Indecision 2020 won’t just affect the race for president. Absentee voting will have an effect down-ballot as well. So any close congressional races or even the race for mayor in Richmond, might not have a clear winner for some time.

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