Amid the excitement of election night, many high-profile races were called well in advance of total vote reporting. In most cases, that rapid-fire decision-making is as safe a bet as any. California’s gubernatorial race, for example, was about as suspenseful as Arkansas’ – even with just 1% of precincts reporting, most outlets declared Gov. Gavin Newsom the winner. But other contests were too close to call, and many of them will remain so, thanks in large part to absentee ballots that have yet to be counted. For that matter, some have yet to even be received. Want to know all the winners and losers? Settle in and get comfortable, then, because you may be in for a long wait.
Every state in the Union allows mail-in voting. Of those, 31 require the ballots to be received on or before Election Day, whereas the other 19 merely want them postmarked by then. In the 2022 midterm elections, eight states – Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Hawaii, and Vermont – mailed out paper ballots to residents automatically. Another 28 only sent them out if asked to, but honored all requests, with or without a stated reason. Just 14 required a valid excuse for a voter to receive an absentee ballot.
While it isn’t a direct match, if one were to mark states on a US map by mail-in ballot permissibility and Democrat control of the government, one would see considerable overlap. When comparing party power by state to whether a ballot must be received or merely postmarked by Election Day, there’s much less of a pattern. However, five of the states that sent out absentee ballots without request – each under Democrat leadership – also didn’t require the finalized forms to be received by Election Day. And the more mail-in ballots there are to count, the greater the surprise they might bring. Don’t expect final results in any contest in which no one has conceded – regardless of what the media declares – until later in the week.
Runoffs and Recounts
With 98% of the vote reported as of 6:45 a.m. ET, Nov. 9, the Georgia Senate race presently seems destined for a runoff – and that delays the result until next month, at least. Incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D), at last count, was leading Republican challenger Herschel Walker 49.4% to 48.5% – a difference of just over 35,000 votes. Libertarian Chase Oliver pulled in a little over 80,000, but there’s no guarantee enough of those third-party voters would turn out for Walker in a runoff to push him ahead.
In Arizona, Democrat Senator Mark Kelly leads Republican Blake Masters 52% to 45.9%, with 63% reporting; if the final margin is 0.5% or tighter, it triggers a recount. Nevada has seen incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) fall behind her challenger, Adam Laxalt, with the Republican claiming 49% to Masto’s 47.2%, but only 72% of the votes have been reported. With a gap of less than 23,000 between them, the estimated 397,000 or so ballots that remain uncounted could swing the contest in either direction – or even produce a race so close that the losing side calls for a recount. Nevada doesn’t begin counting any ballots until the last vote has been collected, meaning it could take a day or two to get a final result.
America Was Warned … Sort Of
For the last several days, President Biden, Democrat spokespeople, and the Fourth Estate have been warning Americans not to believe any results that come in on the night as it may take a while to tabulate all the ballots. And this appears to have proven true – to some extent. Apparently, it is appropriate to accept results on the night if they favor a Democrat. Going into the election, four key Senate races were identified: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. The Keystone State has been called for Democrat John Fetterman, but the three remaining crucial seats are still undecided, and they could make all the difference.
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