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Here’s what we know about key states that are still counting ballots

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 11/4/2020 Meryl Kornfield, Michelle Lee, Reis Thebault

As expected, the decision by a record number of Americans to vote by mail this year has slowed ballot counting in many parts of the country, with election officials cautioning that some results may not be available until Wednesday or later. Here’s where things stand in several closely watched states.


Pennsylvania began processing absentee ballots the morning of Election Day under state law, but a handful of counties said they would not begin the process until Wednesday.

“The counties are working really hard to get [the results] in as soon as possible,” Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said Tuesday evening. “It’s going to take time.”

Philadelphia officials said they planned to count through the night, but would not be reporting updates overnight. After counting into early Wednesday morning, Alleghany County, home of Pittsburgh, was expected to resume the process later in the day.

In a tweet around 3 a.m., Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf wrote, " We still have over 1 million mail ballots to count in Pennsylvania. I promised Pennsylvanians that we would count every vote and that’s what we’re going to do."


In Wisconsin, mail ballots could not be processed until Election Day. Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe told reporters Tuesday night to expect local jurisdictions, which are responsible for the count in the state, to continue the counting into the morning.

“I think every election counting continues into the next morning,” she said. “I won’t speak for some of our jurisdictions, but some of the larger jurisdictions are predicting they will be counting into the morning."

“There is no cutoff or deadline,” she said. “They must keep counting until they are done.”


In Michigan, where jurisdictions with more than 25,000 people had to wait until Nov. 2 to begin processing mail ballots, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Tuesday night that 3.3 million absentee ballots had been cast in this election.

That number is expected to grow to about 3.5 million once the final batches of absentee ballots are collected, Benson said at a news conference at Ford Field. She estimated that between 2 million and 2.5 million people voted in person Tuesday but said officials would have a better idea of in-person turnout totals in the hours ahead.

“We’re on track to be in a position to potentially see a full result of every tabulation in the next 24 hours,” Benson said.

Same-day voter registration exceeded 28,000, with the cities of Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids seeing the highest number of new voters. This was the first presidential election since Michigan voters approved a law allowing same-day voter registration.


Democratic stronghold counties in the Atlanta area and surrounding suburbs were still tabulating results early Wednesday morning.

In Fulton County, the state’s most populous county and a reliably Democratic one, five employees at State Farm Arena in Atlanta were still scanning absentee ballots as of 12:30 a.m., said county spokeswoman Regina Waller. A water pipe burst in the arena early Tuesday morning, leading to a two-hour delay in the counting of absentee ballots. County officials said no ballots or machines were damaged.

“At this point, I don’t have info regarding a time things will stop. It appears we will be here for a while,” Waller said.

DeKalb County, another heavily Democratic county that encompasses part of Atlanta, began reporting partial results late Tuesday night and will continue tabulating in-person votes from Election Day and early voting through the early hours of Wednesday, said spokesperson Erik Burton.

In Gwinnett County, located northeast of Atlanta, as many as 80,000 absentee ballots were flagged for an “adjudication” process, meaning they could not be scanned and tabulated to be included in Tuesday night’s results, said county spokesman Joe Sorenson.

The ballots are counted in batches of 25 ballots, and county officials found earlier on Tuesday that 3,200 batches would not push through the system because of an error in at least one of the ballots, Sorenson said.

The county board decided to push those ballots through the system and then review the ballot batches again to see which ones were problematic, which could change the results, he said.

“This is no different than other situations that can affect final results — for example, provisional ballots or absentee ballots cured after Election Day — and this is why the results on election night are always labeled unofficial and incomplete,” Sorenson said.

Amy Gardner, Jon Swaine, Rosalind S. Helderman, Griff Witte and Kayla Ruble contributed to this report.


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