‘Substantial Chance’ Vote Results Won’t Be Known on Election Night

By Sandy Fitzgerald

There is a “substantial chance” that the nation won’t know on election night what the final results will be, even possibly for the presidential race, but “that’s OK,” as the vote will take time to count accurately, Ellen Weintraub, a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, said Monday.

“We’re all going to need to take a deep breath and be patient this year,” Weintraub said on CNN’s “New Day.” “If it takes a little bit longer to count all the votes accurately, that’s what we need to do in order to ensure that everyone’s vote counts.”

She said that the vote can “absolutely” be done by mail, but she is concerned that states will need much more money than Congress has allocated.

“This is critically important and it has to happen now,” Weintraub said. “The states and localities are going to incur huge extra expenses this year in order to have the kind of ramped-up absentee voting program that the voters are demanding, but also to provide for safe in-person voting for those voters who choose to vote this way.”

Congress has allocated about $400 million, she said, but the Brennan Center for Justice in New York has estimated that there will be about $4 billion in extra costs involved in the election as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As for the safety of mail-in voting itself, however, Weintraub pointed out that the military has voted that way since the Civil War and several states already have robust mail-in voting systems in place.

“Voting experts do not really distinguish between absentee voting, which the president and the vice president have endorsed, and mail-in voting,” said Weintraub. “If people are concerned about this, mail-in voting actually doesn’t need to be mailed in. Usually, the ballots are mailed to people at their homes, but you can fill them out and mail them back. But in many jurisdictions, there are drop boxes and safe locations, you can drop them off at the election board … most states allow absentee voting. It’s been done before, it’s safe. There is no substantial risk of fraud involved in absentee voting.”


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