Last updated on September 1, 2020
No question, the November election is shaping up to be a unique one. Between the pandemic, the sabotage of the Postal Service (and have you thanked a postal employee today? I have), the fear of longer lines at the fewer polling places, lots and lots of voters are planning to mail their ballots in as soon as they can. Many, maybe most, of those votes will be for Biden. The Malignant Mangoface knows that, of course. Among the many tricks he’s planning is that, if the count shows him ahead when the polls close, he will declare victory and say that any votes counted after that — meaning the mail-in votes — are illegal.
That won’t stand up in court, but it will create confusion and get his followers to think that, when the final tally is in, the election was stolen from him. He figures to ride out the chaos and violence to keep his ass behind the Resolute Desk. (Never mind the XXII Amendment.)
The way around that is to count the mail-in ballots as they arrive, without releasing the counts until after the polls close on election day, naturally. Eighteen states already allow that, and more want to do so, too:
At least 18 states allow mail ballot processing before Election Day, beyond just signature matching, according to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. But that doesn't mean they'll have a tabulated number ahead of the election. However, depending on the state, officials are able to open envelopes or even matching ballot numbers against poll books — giving them a head start on Election Day.
Here is the list of all states and their rules for counting mail-in (absentee) ballots. As is usual with elections, some of it is confusing, including how much processing, such as signature verification, can be done in advance. (Some states require waiting until election day itself! Maryland and Mississippi don’t allow any processing at all until after the polls close.) Here’s the list of states that at least allow counting of these ballots to start before the polls open:
Arizona California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Hawai’i Indiana Kansas Louisiana Montana Nebraska North Carolina New Mexico Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Utah Vermont
If your state isn’t on that list, you should be writing your state reps and such to get this changed ASAP. That especially includes these states:
But Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that could decide the presidency — must wait. Each of these states were decided by razor-thin margins in 2016, and each has seen unprecedented increases in mail-in voting in primaries this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Local election officials say they're facing an overwhelming workload that could be eased by early processing, and some say they won't have conclusive results on November 3 unless they can begin opening ballots early. [emphasis added]
Pennsylvania is a particular opportunity and problem:
Neither of the Pennsylvania legislators whom [Philadelphia citu commoissioner] Deeley asked for assistance, both Republicans, responded to her letter, said Nick Custodio, her deputy in the Philadelphia City Commissioners office. On Monday, one of them introduced legislation that would allow counties to open and scan ballots three days early. But the Democratic governor is unlikely to sign it because the bill also has a provision that would move up the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot, a remedy to a tight ballot delivery timeline that could result in reduced voting.
Michigan has a possible bipartisan opportunity:
[Michigan's Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn] Benson's predecessor, Ruth Johnson, is now a Republican state senator who sponsored a bill that would allow clerks in cities with at least 25,000 people to begin opening ballot envelopes the Monday before the election. Ballots would have to stay in their secrecy sleeves to prevent anyone from seeing actual votes ahead of time. Johnson believes there are enough votes to pass the bill but says the legislature “can't wait any longer.”
In Wisconsin, it doesn’t look there is enough time left to pass a law, but election officials in Milwaukee and Madison are hopeful they can get the count done in time, with extra help and voting tabulators.
But we need to push for this in ALL states. Here is how California’s law works:
Signature verification for all-mail jurisdictions can begin 29 days before Election Day. Processing can begin 19 days before Election Day. Jurisdictions that are not all-mail can start processing at 5 p.m. the day before Election Day.
GOTV is the first step. GTVC — Get The Vote Counted — is just as important.
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