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Election officials: Vote count in Pennsylvania could take days

Posted at 3:11 PM, Nov 04, 2020

The Keystone State is living up to its name, as potentially the linchpin in who becomes America’s next president.

“Their processes just were never anticipating such an influx,” said Matthew Weil, with the Bipartisan Policy Center.

It’s an influx of early absentee and mail-in ballots, in numbers Pennsylvania has never dealt with before. The state received about 2.5 million mail-in ballots, 10 times the number they had in 2016. Yet, counting all of the state’s ballots will take a while.

Watch Gov. Tom Wolf provide an update about the state's election results:

“In some of the biggest jurisdictions--Philadelphia, Pittsburgh--they just didn't have the experience counting those quickly,” Weil said. “And the fact that the legislature did not give them time before Election Day to count those, even knowing that this was coming, means that most likely we're not going to have great results until Friday.”

Among the areas to watch in Pennsylvania: the suburban counties around the state’s two biggest cities, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. That includes Bucks County, which lies just north of Philadelphia.

“Counting the ballots is really an uncertain science for us,” said Bob Harvie, Bucks County Board of Elections Chairman.

Those mail-in ballots also take longer to count.

“There are two envelopes we have to open: the outside envelope and the secrecy envelope,” Harvie said. “So, it's really double the work.”

Here in Bucks County alone, they sent out 200,000 mail-in ballots for this election. That’s 10 times the number they did in 2016. And in Bucks County, like everywhere else across Pennsylvania, ballots postmarked on Election Day can still be counted if they’re received through Friday. However, elections officials are preparing for the possibility of a legal challenge involving those ballots.

“We do know that there's very likely to be a legal challenge to that claiming that that's not constitutional,” Harvie said. “So, we are going to start segregating any mail we get.”

In the end, though, officials in Pennsylvania hope the 2020 election keeps voters confident in the election system.

“The people you see here working, you know these are not political appointees,” Harvie said. “They’re county employees, they’re government employees, and so, really, they're they've committed themselves to giving people a fair, accurate, safe election.”

It’s an election that doesn’t appear to be over just yet.