WASHINGTON — Our nation’s next president will be determined though an election unlike any before it, where more than half of Americans are projected to cast their vote by absentee ballot. Now, with our election just weeks away, grassroots movements are firing up throughout the country to ensure every vote counts.
As a record number of voters look to the United States Postal Service (USPS) as a means for casting their vote this election, largely due to the ongoing pandemic, many fear the postal service could struggle to deliver the massive influx of ballots on time.
While USPS has promised they can and will deliver, democrats in a handful of states have been advocating that extension periods be put into place to accept late arriving ballots.
These attempts have led to extension periods being granted in a handful of states; including, Pennsylvania (3 days), Nevada (3 days), and North Carolina (9 days).
Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Georgia, Maine, South Carolina, and Florida, are all states where deadline extensions were granted but were later shot down through lawsuits by President Donald Trump and the RNC, as many republicans urge that such extensions could leave room for fraud.
Some states, like Ohio, already have long-standing laws in place allowing ballots to be counted up to 10 days after the election, as long as they were postmarked before Election Day. All states include an extension period for military and provisional ballots.
Even now, though, with November 3rd remaining a hard stop deadline in most states, it does not mean we can or should expect to have results right after polls close.
“It’s going to take longer than election night to get the results,” said Maria Ibarra-Fraye, a member of We The People Michigan. “That’s the part that’s a little bit uncertain, of how long exactly it will go to count all the absentee ballots that wouldn’t have been sent in in previous elections.”
Grassroots organizations like We The People Michigan are gearing up throughout the country, made up of people who say they want to prepare for any outcome of an already unparalleled election. Their biggest concern, Ibarra-Fraye said, is that with the massive influx of mail-in votes, a candidate could prematurely announce victory before all ballots that were casted on time are counted.
“[It’s important] that we’re actually counting people’s votes, that we’re following through the process as it’s supposed to be,” said Gabriela Santiago-Romero of We The People MI. “If it takes a week to count the votes, give it a week to count the votes, but have the votes be counted so we’re able to have a clear winner.”
It’s also important to note that even once a winner is officially announced there could still be a contested election where the final results are not trusted; then, the case would go to court.
So, even though Election Day is less than three weeks away, it’s important to understand that it could be longer before we have final word on who will be inaugurated as President in January.