Ballot-counting watchers are a key component of both campaigns’ legal strategies, with preparations underway to contest ballots, review signatures along with witness requirements, along with push to “cure” invalid ballots in states where that will’s allowed. If a battleground state becomes a razor-thin contest, the fight could end up from the courts.
The role of ballot watchers, who include trained volunteers along with lawyers, will be to document every detail along with dispute a ballot if there’s a potential issue. While their presence isn’t brand-new, election experts fear that will the added oversight — combined with an influx of mail-in ballots — could lead to unnecessary delays that will fuel doubt along with chaos if This specific’s a close election that will hinges on the mail-in vote to determine the outcome.
along with with millions more people casting ballots through the mail thanks to the covid-19 pandemic — along with many states waiting to begin counting those ballots until the polls close — the process could stretch well past Election Day.
The prospect of a delayed result comes as Trump along with the White House are suggesting that will the outcome of the presidential contest should be known on election night, rhetoric that will’s at odds with what election officials along with experts are trying to prepare the public for: Vote totals on election night are never official along with the high percentage of mail-in ballots means results will come in more slowly, so a winner may not be known for days, if not weeks, afterward.
“The longer This specific takes to count these ballots the more uncertainty there will be along with those spreading disinformation, along with even foreign adversaries, could use that will uncertainty to create more division along with reduce confidence,” said David Becker, founder of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation along with Research.
Republican National Committee Chief Counsel Justin Riemer said the party will be investing in a legal effort to make sure the process “runs smoothly” along with the law will be being followed.
“We are not there to obstruct the process. If they’re supposed to check signatures, they need to check signatures. We understand there’s an urgency to count ballots, yet This specific needs to be done right,” Riemer told CNN. “We can’t stand aside if officials aren’t complying with the law — an unfortunate consequence of taking action will be that will This specific could slow down the process.”
The presidential campaigns lawyer up
Both Democrats along with Republicans have spent millions gearing up for legal battles expected both before along with after the polls have closed on November 3.
“We’re monitoring those potential situations along with are well prepared to respond to them as needed,” said a Biden campaign official.
“This specific’s fair to say that will 2020 will be the largest election observation program that will the party has had along with the presidential campaign has had,” Riemer said. “We’re prepared with volunteers along with attorneys in these central counting locations starting at the time ballots begin to be processed.”
The potential of the two parties contesting the results could begin soon after the polls close. Democrats have been warning that will the returns coming in on election night could be misleading, because a higher percentage of Republican voters are planning to vote in person, while more Democratic voters say they’ll vote through the mail, according to polling coming from CNN along with others.
that will means states could have Trump ahead when voters go to bed on election night, only to see the results shift toward Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, as more mail-in ballots are tabulated.
This specific’s a phenomenon that will occurred during the 2018 midterm elections in several close races, which prompted Trump to falsely cast doubt on the process. He tweeted that will Florida “must go with Election Night results” when the Senate contest tightened due to mail-in votes, along with suggested Arizona should hold a brand-new election after Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took the lead from the Senate race.
Biden said on Monday that will he was concerned Trump would likely try to do the same thing in November. Asked if he had confidence that will all votes would likely be counted, the former vice president told reporters, “I have confidence that will Trump will try to not have that will happen, yet I’m confident the American public will be going to insist on This specific.”
The length of time This specific takes for a winner to be declared from the presidential election will depend heavily on how close the election will be. In modern presidential politics, a winner will be usually — yet not always — called on election night. In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry did not concede until the next day, waiting for the results in Ohio to fully come in. along with in 2000, the presidential contest stretched on more than a month after Election Day, thanks to a protracted Florida recount along with the court battle that will accompanied This specific.
RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens pointed to the 2000 Florida recount as an example of why there shouldn’t be a long delay post-election. “I don’t think the 36 days This specific took in 2000 did a service to anyone,” Ahrens said.
‘You could genuinely muck up the work’
Several key battleground states — Michigan, Wisconsin along with Pennsylvania — don’t start counting mail-in ballots until Election Day by law, which only raises the stakes for a potential delay until This specific’s known who won.
Michigan will be debating changing its laws on counting mail-in ballots. The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday giving election workers one additional day to process absentee ballots; the legislation will be still pending from the House.
Once the counting begins, several states, such as Wisconsin, allow challengers to be in close proximity to the election official tabulating the votes, allowing them to question whether a ballot will be valid. Wisconsin election official Reid Magney said the state has historically had lawyers coming from both sides at the central count locations, such as Milwaukee along with Green Bay, which are also open to the public.
“Campaigns can have people looking over their shoulders” Magney said.
yet that will can slow things down.
“If you have a ballot that will would likely normally take 20-30 seconds, yet This specific takes 1-2 minutes because someone will be challenging every ballot — that will exponentially lengthens This specific along with you could genuinely muck up the work,” Becker said.
Because more mail-in votes are likely to be coming coming from Democrats, the GOP lawyers are likely to be from the position of challenging the legitimacy of mail-in ballots. Such challenges could be due to a signature mismatch or a missing piece of information like a witness signature, which will be required in some states.
Democrats, in turn, are preparing to be ready to counter those Republican challenges. They are also readying efforts to quickly “cure” ballots deemed invalid, which can be done after Election Day in 13 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Election officials at the central counting locations are typically well-trained, Becker said, adding that will campaigns will need “some reasonable basis” to challenge a ballot. “You’re not allowed to challenge every ballot,” he said.
Magney said campaign officials along with the general public are allowed to observe the process, yet they can’t go too far. “If someone will be creating a disturbance,” he said, “they could be tossed out.”