Pennsylvania and Maryland held their primaries on June 2nd. As of the time of this writing, I am updating the latest tabulation- 14 days later- out of Philadelphia. I just finished running the tab on Maryland. I recently “joked” on Twitter that “Election Night is Dead, long live Election Week”, but I’m really not joking.
If you stopped your vote count on June 2nd, you would have missed over a million votes in Pennsylvania. Hundreds of thousands in Maryland. Just this week, in Georgia, well, we still have thousands of thousands of ballots still left to be counted in Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and the rest of the Atlanta Metropolitan area. Indeed, Gwinnett alone had tens of thousands of them uncounted as of Friday morning.
Donald Trump had more votes in the PA primary as reported on 6/2 than Joe Biden despite a non-competitive primary. The DDHQ vote count now has him at 1.037 million to Biden’s 1.239 million. I have little confidence in state and federal officials speeding anything up, effectively, between now and November. The volume of ballots cast in different ways, the lack of familiarity with such processing by local officials, late deadlines for returns and varied county-level decision-making will form the perfect storm of post-election night tabulation waves.
Election night race calls, in tight contests, are going to be impossible in states with this much of the vote rolling in for days on end. You cannot call a close contest when you are missing two-thirds of the vote. Further, many counties and states simply cannot seem to keep an accurate tab on how many outstanding ballots they actually have left. Imagine a hotly contested Congressional race where the leading candidate has about two-point lead, with mail-ins left to count. Two-thirds of its counties have reported their mail-ins, but the outstanding larger ones have only begun to process. Now play this scenario out across the United States, and you can see why a considerable portion of the contests we’re all looking at are going to be covered in question marks for a week.
Some states have begun to give their counties some leeway in tallying. The Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Secretary of State worked with the Governor adjusting the execution of their upcoming primary. Part of that adjustment gives counties up until June 30th to announce their returns. The two most populated counties in the state- Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington) have already taken the SOS up on that- there will be no results out of either major county on June 23rd. For media and election buffs, this means NO results whatsoever in KY-03, half (at best) of the returns in KY-06, and no race call in the Kentucky U.S. Senate Democratic primary until June 30th. You certainly can’t call that race, arguable the most high-profile one in the Bluegrass State, with a full third of the Democratic vote missing.
We are all going to have to adapt to the longer election tallying process. Next Tuesday, it is the Empire State’s turn. Absentees have never been cast in New York in great volume, but that will suddenly change with this primary. In New York City, home of an upcoming high-profile race, the Democratic primary in NY-16, had only 4% of it’s total ballots for governor cast by absentee methods in 2018. They are going to see a surge in that kind of voting unlike anything they’ve dealt with before. Do not anticipate a quick count and call here, election world. We have no clue how high of a share the absentees will constitute this time, nor how rapidly The Bronx and Westchester County will be able to process them.
The counting continues.