Election officials in Pennsylvania have announced that there likely won’t be a final count on the absentee ballots in the state until Friday at the earliest, largely because counties weren’t allowed to begin counting them until Election Day or the day after, Breitbart reports.
That means that the question of which candidate won the critical battleground state will remain unanswered for at least the next few days, if not even longer, given the near inevitability of legal challenges on a variety of fronts.
Meanwhile, over the course of the next several days, election officials will continue to accept mail-in ballots that were supposed to have been received no later than the close of the polls on Election Day, though those late-arriving ballots will ostensibly be set aside and counted separately in light of pending litigation regarding the extended deadline.
Deadlocked negotiations between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled state legislature are reportedly to blame for the fact that election workers in counties across Pennsylvania are only just now starting to count the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of absentee and mail-in ballots received, according to ABC News.
Lisa Schaefer, executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, explained that when the law was changed earlier in the year to allow for “no-excuse” absentee mail-in ballots for all voters, no allowance was made for election workers to begin dealing with the hugely anticipated flood of mail-in ballots prior to the close of the polls on Election Day.
A number of counties began to demand that more time be allotted to pre-canvass and begin counting those ballots, especially after the state’s primary election was a debacle with a flood of mail-in ballots, but little was done.
Republican lawmakers attempted to grant the counties additional time ahead of the election to deal with the absentee ballots, but that plan fell through when other aspects of the arrangement, such as limits on when ballots could be received and access for poll watchers, nixed the deal.
Outstanding ballots remains unknown
In the end, with Gov. Wolf and the legislature at an impasse, the only real change was to allow the process to begin when polls opened on Election Day instead of after they had closed.
However, there were at least eight counties, seven of which were won by President Donald Trump in 2016, that announced that they wouldn’t even begin to process any absentee ballots until the day after the election, the reason being that they wanted election workers to be fully focused on counting the in-person Election Day votes first.
Without any pre-canvassing of the mail-in ballots, it is unclear just how many of the more than 3 million ballots requested were actually returned versus how many of those voters ultimately decided to vote on Election Day with a provisional ballot.
Because of this, there is no way yet to know how many outstanding ballots there are to be counted.
In all likelihood, especially considering the probable and pending legal fights, nobody will know for sure who won Pennsylvania until well after Friday.