Recap: While Election Day in Pennsylvania went smoothly, there are still a lot of unknowns
Despite a deadly pandemic, massive changes to the electoral system, and misinformation-driven fears of chaos — many of them fueled by the president of the United States — Election Day in Pennsylvania was almost like any other.
There were busy polling places, long lines, and occasional mishaps, especially in the always-bumpy early hours of the morning. But with the nation watching, Pennsylvania saw a largely smooth process in its first election with mass mail voting.
It was the culmination of weeks of mail voting, a new form of early in-person voting, and preparations to accommodate people at traditional polling places as a new wave of coronavirus infections was cresting.
But due to that high volume of mail voting, there are still quite a few races in which we don’t know the outcomes yet, including, of course, the presidency. Other races too close to call last night included Pa. auditor general and attorney general — as well as who will control the Pa. state legislature.
The remaining swing states that are still counting votes include Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.
Trump said his Pennsylvania lead is ‘impossible to catch.’ It’s not. Let’s crunch the numbers.
Despite President Donald Trump’s claim that his early lead in Pennsylvania based on partial vote totals is “going to be almost impossible to catch,” most mail ballots had not yet been counted and released as of 3 a.m. Wednesday.
And those ballots will heavily favor Joe Biden.
Not only did Democrats vote by mail at much higher rates than Republicans, the majority of mail ballots left come from heavily Democratic areas.
Out of more than 2.5 million mail ballots cast, 1.1 million had been counted and included by 3 a.m. in the unofficial totals posted on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.
That left 1.44 million — 56% — that had either not yet been counted or whose totals have not yet been uploaded into the system and published. (Several counties are counting ballots around the clock, though they are not uploading results in real time.)
Most of those remaining ballots come from Philadelphia, its four suburban collar counties — Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery — and Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh. Together, the six counties had 800,000 ballots that were still to be counted or added to the total.
Those votes will strongly skew toward Biden.
In fact, more than three out of five of the remaining mail ballots come from counties that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
And these numbers might actually slightly underestimate the total number of mail ballots to be counted, since some ballots have been received but not yet scanned into the state’s database. Plus, ballots can also be counted if they arrive by mail as late as 5 p.m. Friday under an order from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court — though Republicans are challenging that before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Not only do the uncounted votes come primarily from areas most favorable to Biden, mail ballots are disproportionately likely to be used by Democrats. That’s why we were always very likely to see what’s known as a “blue shift” as those mail ballots are counted.
Democrats requested and returned mail ballots at far greater numbers than Republicans, with Democrats' mail ballots exceeding Republicans' in 59 of the state’s 67 counties. That means even in most counties that Trump won in 2016, Democrats outnumbered Republicans when it came to voting by mail.
So despite Trump’s claim that the remaining votes could not close his current margin in the vote totals, and that those votes were coming from “good Pennsylvania areas where they happen to like your president,” the blue shift will continue. There are many, many mail ballots still to be counted, and it’s very likely most of them were cast for Biden.
It will be quite possible to “catch” Trump’s vote totals.We’ll have to wait for more votes to find out whether it happens.
Pa. Gov. Wolf, Philly election official vow that all votes will be counted
Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf and Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt early Wednesday morning pushed back on President Donald Trump’s demand that vote-counting must end.
“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,” Wolf said in a post on Twitter.
“Let’s be clear: This is a partisan attack on Pennsylvania’s elections, our votes, and democracy. Our counties are working tirelessly to process votes as quickly AND as accurately as possible. Pennsylvania will have a fair election and we will count every vote,” Wolf said.
Schmidt also issued a statement on Twitter: “Philadelphia will NOT stop counting ALL legitimate votes cast by eligible voters. And we will report and report and report until the last vote is counted.”
He directed people to watch for themselves by posting a link to a video livestream of ballots being counted in the city.
Trump falsely claims victory, wants vote tally to stop
President Donald Trump falsely declared victory in an early morning speech at the White House Wednesday and called on the U.S. Supreme Court to order a stop to the election.
“This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said in a speech that started at 2:21 a.m.. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.”
Trump said he wants the Supreme Court to stop the tallying of mail ballots, still under way in several states, including Pennsylvania. His campaign issued two fundraising pleas after midnight, asking for support in that legal action.
“We want all voting to stop,” Trump said. “We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 a.m. in the morning and add them to the list.”
Voting has stopped, it is the counting of votes that continues.
Elections officials in Philadelphia are working through the night to count mail ballots and can, according to a ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, accept mail ballots that arrive as late as Friday if they were postmarked by Tuesday or arrive without a postmark. Trump has repeatedly criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for not fast-tracking a challenge to the ruling.
Trump rattled off several states that have been called in his favor while claiming to have won a few that have not been called. He also mocked Fox News for projecting former Vice President Joe Biden as the winner in Arizona.
And Trump focused once again on Pennsylvania’s role in securing the presidency, claiming that votes still being counted in the state are coming from areas that favor him.
“Most importantly, we’re winning Pennsylvania by a tremendous amount of votes,” Trump told a cheering crowd in the White House’s East Room. “And we’re coming into good Pennsylvania areas where they happen to like your president.”
Pennsylvania is divided about everything but this: Please let this election be over
ERIE, Pa. — In sharply divided Pennsylvania, there was one thing members of both political tribes widely agreed on Tuesday: They wanted this election to be over.
But 2020 being 2020, the one desire that seemed to have consensus support was denied to everyone.
Months of waiting — and for some voters and activists, years — was met with more waiting as key states, including Pennsylvania, required more time to process the deluge of mail ballots brought on by 2020′s defining plague, the coronavirus pandemic.
Shortly after 1 a.m., several key battleground states remained too close to call, foreshadowing a long night and perhaps several long days ahead to decide a winner, with much potentially hinging on Pennsylvania.
It meant that after months of interminable television ads, years of divisions that have torn at families, friendships and neighborhoods, there was no resolution — just more waiting, more agonizing over the most emotionally charged election in memory.
“It didn’t used to be quite this way,” said Brendan Daugherty, 31, who voted in Erie, the core of a battleground county in the northwestern corner of a battleground state. He said his relationships with family and friends had been strained over recent years. “Everything has been exacerbated... it’s sad to see.”
Daugherty blamed President Donald Trump for stoking divisions, especially when it comes to the national reckoning on racial inequality. Trump supporters, meanwhile, said Democrats had widened the fault lines by opposing Trump at every turn. “Just being against it because Trump’s for it,” Owen McCormick, 61, said in Erie.
A national exit poll of more than 12,000 voters affirmed the desire for closure.Some 90% of Joe Biden voters and 84% of Trump voters said they “just want it to be over,” according to the survey by Morning Consult. Eight out of 10 Biden supporters and more than 6 out of 10 Trump voters said the election made them “anxious."
”I’m more excited for this to be over than anything else," said Jeff Keating, a restaurant owner in Dunmore, outside Scranton.
As expected, Pennsylvania will not have a winner tonight.
The state reported nearly 4 million votes by 12:30 a.m., still far short of the potential seven million that may have been cast. Of the votes tallied, Trump had 58 percent to Biden’s 43 percent.
There’s almost certainly no way the actual result ends up being close to those numbers, even if Trump wins Pennsylvania. (Trump won less than 58% of the vote in 2016, for example, in solidly Republican states such as Mississippi, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina.)
Trump’s early lead was expected as in-person results pour in ahead of mail-in ballot counts, which could show a spike in Democratic votes. Expect the numbers to continue to fluctuate and even to “flip.”
Some of Pennsylvania’s largest counties, for example, do not have their mail ballot numbers reflected in the state’s website. Those counties, including Philadelphia and Chester and Delaware Counties, make up a massive stronghold of Democratic votes. As the results of those votes are uploaded to the system, it’s possible we’ll see some strong shifting toward Biden as part of the fluctuation.
Eyes will likely be on Pennsylvania’s count. With President Trump projected to win the key states of Florida and Ohio, Pennsylvania becomes even more key in the path to 270.
Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden briefly addressed supporters in Delaware and asked them to have patience as the votes are counted but expressed confidence that he was on a path to victory.
“We feel good about where we are now. We really do,” he said to supporters who greeted him from parked cars with a chorus of enthusiastic honks.
“We believe we’re on track to win this election,” he said with his wife, Jill Biden, by his side. They took the stage wearing masks.
In his four-minute address, he said it was not up to him or President Donald Trump to declare a winner, but to the voters with every vote being counted.
Biden said he had been in contact with his campaign in Pennsylvania and was told that turn-out looked good in Philadelphia; Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh; and Scranton.
He expressed optimism about his prospects in some other key battleground states, but declared: “We’re gonna win Pennsylvania.”
Again, he asked that his supporters be patient as results are slowly reported.
“Keep the faith,” he said, referring to a frequently told story about his grandfather in Scranton telling him that when he was a child.
Pa. GOP leaders and Gov. Wolf continue to fight over Election Day
The polls have been closed for hours in Pennsylvania but the politicians continue to fight on about Election Day.
Republican leaders in the state General Assembly called Tuesday night for Secretary of State Kathy Bookvar to “resign immediately,” accusing her of taking “numerous actions to undermine public confidence in Pennsylvania’s elections.”
Gov. Tom Wolf called that “a partisan attack on Pennsylvania’s elections and our votes.”
State Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnatti and House Majority Leader Jake Corman, in a statement just after 10 p.m., complained about Bookvar advising county election officials to keep segregated — but to also count — mail ballots received after the polls closed.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that mail ballots received by 5 p.m. Friday can be counted if they have been postmarked by Tuesday or arrive lacking a postmark. The U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled yet on a challenge to that decision.
Scarnati and Corman said segregating but counting those ballots could commingle them with ballots that arrived by Election Day. They also complained about guidance Bookvar’s department gave counties to contact voters who had made mistakes in how they submitted mail ballots, offering them a chance to vote with a provisional ballot to address the problem. They said that led to an inconsistent approach in the state’s counties.
“Attacks like this are an attempt to undermine confidence in the results of the election, and we should all denounce them for the undemocratic actions they are,” Wolf said in a 12: 30 a.m. statement.
Democrat Andy Kim defends seat in N.J.'s Third Congressional District
Democratic U.S. Rep. Andy Kim has defeated Republican businessman David Richter in the race for New Jersey’s Third Congressional District, according to the Associated Press.
Made up of almost all of Burlington County and a large piece of Ocean County, the 3rd District is a longtime Republican stronghold in a Democratic state. Former Eagles tackle Jon Runyan represented the district from 2011 to 2015. Kim flipped it by fewer than 4,000 votes in 2018, when he defeated then-U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur. He’s now the first Democrat in decades to hold the seat for consecutive terms.
A former national security aide under President Barack Obama, Kim has proven a prolific fund-raiser, especially for a freshman. He’s raised more than $4 million since joining Congress, and had $3.5 million in campaign cash at the end of June, according to federal filings.
Pa. counties will separate mail ballots received after Election Day
At a late-night press conference in Harrisburg, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said that she couldn’t say how long it would take for counties to count mail ballots arriving between now and Friday — which are the subject of a lawsuit spearheaded by Pennsylvania Republicans.
Boockvar said counties would be separating ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day from those cast before the traditional deadline.
“We’re going to do the first round first and then immediately start with the second round,” she said.
Though Pennsylvania Republicans have claimed that some counties don’t have the capacity to separate and count these ballots — and even called on Boockvar to resign in a press release last night — Boockvar said that wasn’t the case.
“It is possible for every county in the state to segregate these ballots and it will happen,” she said.
She added that it was also too soon to tell whether naked ballots — mail-in ballots received without their secrecy envelope, invalidating them — had been a problem in the state, and that state officials would likely know more in 24 hours.
Philly is still counting mail ballots and officials say they will continue 24/7
No, Philly has not stopped counting mail ballots and is not behind schedule.
Despite reports that Philadelphia has stopped counting its mail ballots or is significantly behind schedule, the livestream from the Convention Center shows workers making their way through yellow bins full of ballots.
“We are doing the canvass, we are not stopping for nobody,” said Omar Sabir, one of three city commissioners, who run elections. “We’re here, we’re counting. The count has not stopped.”
If anything, another elections official said, Philadelphia is ahead of schedule when it comes to tallying mail ballots.
The confusion may stem from national news organizations' unfamiliarity with election results reporting in Pennsylvania. Counties do not always update the state system as often as they update their own websites, and at 11:40 p.m. the state’s website showed only 74,132 votes for Biden and 32,414 for Trump out of Philadelphia.
‘Red mirage’ starts in Pa. as vote tallies continue
It looks like we’re solidly in “red mirage” territory for now.
Of more than 2.7 million votes the Pennsylvania Department of State was reporting as counted shortly before 11:30 p.m. — still just a fraction of potentially up to seven million that may have been cast — 58% were for Trump and 41% for Biden.
There’s almost certainly no way the actual result ends up being close to those numbers, even if Trump wins Pennsylvania. (Trump won less than 58% of the vote in 2016, for example, in solidly Republican states such as Mississippi, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina.)
We don’t know when we’ll hit the deepest part of the so-called red mirage we’re in, as in-person results continue to pour in from across the state. At some point, the blue shift will generally move things back toward Biden’s direction as mail ballots are counted, but it won’t do smoothly. The numbers will continue to fluctuate and even to “flip.”
Some of Pennsylvania’s largest counties, for example, do not have their mail ballot numbers reflected in the state’s website. Those counties, including Philadelphia and Chester and Delaware Counties, make up a massive stronghold of Democratic votes. As the results of those votes are uploaded to the system, it’s possible we’ll see some strong shifting toward Biden as part of the fluctuation we’ll keep seeing in the next hours.
Senate latest: Lindsay Graham wins, former Auburn football coach defeats Democratic senator in Alabama, Dems pick up Colorado seat
Republicans suffered a first setback in the battle for Senate control Tuesday as Democrats picked up a seat in Colorado, but the GOP ousted a Democrat in Alabama. Well-known Republicans held on in South Carolina and Texas.
Republicans sought to retain their Senate majority against a surge of Democrats challenging President Donald Trump’s allies across a vast political map. Both parties saw paths to victory, and the outcome might not be known on election night.
In Colorado, Republican Cory Gardner was among the most endangered senators. His state had shifted leftward in the Trump era, and Democrat John Hickenlooper, a former governor, won the seat.
“It’s time for a different approach,” Hickenlooper said in an live video message posted on Facebook.
Evans and Boyle hold onto Philly congressional seats
Philadelphia Democrats Dwight Evans and Brendan Boyle are heading back to Congress, according to the Associated Press.
Boyle, who represents Pennsylvania’s 2nd District, was elected to a fourth two-year term in his win over Republican Davis Torres. Evans defeated Republican Michael Harvey, winning a third term in the state’s 3rd District.
In New Jersey, Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross, of Camden, was reelected to a fourth term. He beat Republican Claire Gustafson, according to the AP.
Delco officials say they’re counting 5,000 mail ballots per hour
Delaware County interim director of elections Marianne Jackson said during a news conference at the Bureau of Elections at the Wharf in Chester Tuesday night that workers began counting mail-in and absentee ballots at 9:30 am and posted the results of the first 56,000 of those shortly after 8 pm.
Jackson said the county is processing about 5,000 mail-in and absentee ballots an hour and will post precincts as soon as results are returned. Teams also retrieved ballots from the 41 drop boxes across the county Tuesday night, she said.
“We’re going 24 hours a day till we get the final count,” Jackson said.
Of the 155,000 mail ballots sent out, Delaware County has received about 111,000 back so far, she said. The county, which has about 425,000 registered voters, will take mail ballots through Friday, so long as they were postmarked by Election Day, she said.
One issue which occurred at several polling places across Delaware County, Jackson said, was that scanners were not able to read some of the ballots. That was due to a vendor error with the ballots that rendered them lighter than specified, she said. Those ballots were reprinted and shuttled to the necessary polling locations, according to Jackson.
At a news conference about an hour earlier in front the of the Delaware County Courthouse in Media, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams, and other area democrats called for every vote to be counted, no matter how long it takes.
“We understand people are anxious to learn the results. Those of us who are on the ballot today are also anxious to learn the results,” Scanlon said. “But we must count all the votes. Any effort to rush or undermine this process is inherently undemocratic.”
State Rep. Joanna McClinton stressed that elections are never decided in a day and this one will not be either. She said election rules don’t change overnight just because a candidate for federal office thinks they should.
“We will not let anyone tell us the outcome of an election in Pennsylvania because we don’t know it yet,” McClinton said.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said the county did not have any election-related incidents that led to an arrest Tuesday.
Top Pa. election official reports only ‘standard issues’ at polls
In the first of two planned Election Night press conferences in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf thanked the millions who had voted in Pennsylvania, and urged them to “remain calm, be patient, and stay united."
”Counting that tremendous number of ballots, again, will take longer than we’re used to," he said. “We may not know the results today as a result, but I encourage all of us to take a deep breath and just be patient. What’s most important is that we have accurate results and that every vote is counted, even if it takes a little longer.”
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said that state elections officials had seen no major or widespread voting problems. A toll-free voter information hotline fielded 5,000 calls, mostly “standard issues,” she said. A few reported polling places opening late, “which happens every election,” she said, and long lines at some polls.
More people voted with provisional ballots than usual, she said, because some voters who had applied for mail-in ballots chose to vote instead in person, and poll workers did not always direct them to surrender their mail-in ballot and vote regularly, giving them provisional ballots instead.
“Those votes will be counted,” Boockvar said, and acknowledge that system “still has some learning curve to get through.”
Many callers were concerned about voter intimidation or demonstrations at the polls, Boockvar said. There were no reports of violence at any polling places, but a few reporters of voters feeling “intimidated” that state elections officials were able to resolve by calling county officials where such incidents were reported, she said.
One person accidentally shot himself in his car outside a polling place in Northampton County but was able to drive himself to the hospital, she said. In another incident, a volunteer with the Pennsylvania Democrats was shot by a paintball gun from a moving vehicle, right before the close of polls. Boockvar did not say where that incident occurred.
She said that 2,553,094 mail ballots had been received by the state — almost 83 percent of the ballots that had been sent out. Boockvar said that number is expected to rise, because many counties haven’t yet uploaded the mail ballots that were cast on Election Day.
AP calls more states, but swing states still too close or early to call
The Associated Press has called another round of states in the presidential race. President Donald Trump has won in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska’s third and at-large Congressional districts. (The other two Nebraska Congressional districts, which carry one electoral vote each, have not been called. Nebraska divides its electoral votes by district.) Trump’s electoral vote total is now 98.
The AP has called New York, Colorado, New Mexico, and Washington, D.C. for Biden, bringing his electoral vote total to 131.
As with the last round of races called by the Associated Press, most states called so far are predictably Republican or Democratic. The races in several crucial swing states are still too close to call, or have not reported enough vote totals.
‘Allow time for the votes to be counted,’ Chester County officials say
Some 200 temporary election workers, taking shifts, gathered inside Ehinger Gym at West Chester University Tuesday night and began to county vote-by-mail ballots in Chester County, according to state Rep. Carolyn Comitta.
“They are working 24-7 and they are not going to stop until every vote is counted,” Comitta said during a news conference at about 9 p.m. outside the county’s Government Services Center in West Chester Borough.
Roughly 140,000 registered voters had mailed in their ballots in the weeks and days before the polls opened Tuesday.
Comitta was joined by state and local officials, including fellow Democratic state Rep. Dan Williams. Their message to Chester County voters: Have patience.
“Suffice it to say that this has been an extraordinary day — one that perhaps we waited for for four years,” Williams said. “It’s almost like waking up on Christmas and not being able to contain oneself until we open up the gifts. So today voters have done what they were responsible to do, and now we must allow time for the votes to be counted.”
As Williams spoke, a steady stream of poll workers pulled up to the county building in their cars to drop off provisional ballots and ballots cast in person at the county’s more than 200 polling sites.
So if trends continue, would legal weed go on sale to everyone over 21 anytime soon?
“Definitively, no,” said Jeff Brown, assistant commissioner for the Office of Medicinal Marijuana at the New Jersey Department of Health. “How soon will be determined by what the legislation looks like. That has yet to be written by the Legislature.”
Philadelphia on Tuesday night again implemented traffic closures in the core of Center City, between 20th and Eighth Streets and from Arch to Walnut Streets.
SEPTA service is still allowed through, as are essential workers going to and from their jobs as well as residents inside the zone who are carrying proper identification.
The nightly closures have been enforced by police since late last week in response to unrest that erupted around the city last week after the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. in West Philadelphia.
‘We’ll work 24 hours’ to count votes, Philly officials say
Philadelphia City Commissioners Lisa Deeley and Al Schmidt said during a 9 p.m. news briefing that Tuesday’s election proceeded with few obstacles. Now the truly difficult part begins: counting the city’s ballots.
“We’re doing everything we can to make it as early as possible,” Deeley said. “We’ll work 24 hours.”
As of their announcement, the city had counted 75,000 of the 350,000 mail-in votes it had received so far. A team of about 150 workers will constantly count the incoming mail-in ballots, working in eight hour shifts, Deeley said.
Daily updates on those numbers are expected at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Schmidt said it was too early to tell the results of the mail in votes that have been counted, but noted that the ones the office has processed skew 16-1 Democrat.
He noted that some of the ballots returned to the city had “fatal flaws,” the most common being a lack of a signature or “naked ballots” missing the required secrecy envelope.
Despite these issues, Deeley commended the voters of the city for the day’s impressive turnout."It’s no surprise to me that they are resilient and like to vote," Deeley said. “There were a lot of challenges for them and they rose to the occasion.”
Votes cast in-person on Tuesday are being counted now and will be posted in real time to the city’s website.
Pa.'s earliest results show partisan divide in voting method
We can already see the partisan divide in voting method.
Even in these early returns, mostly meaningless for most analysis, there’s a stark divide showing up already. Without making too much out of it — these are the very first results, after all — the numbers do line up with previous polling and our expectations that Democrats would be much more likely to vote by mail than Republicans. (Trump has spent months falsely attacking mail voting as fraudulent, driving that divide.)
Of the 357,000 mail votes reported by 9:15 p.m., 78% were for Biden and 21% were for Trump.
The 125,000 in-person votes reported at that time showed essentially the opposite: 27% were for Biden, while 72% were for Trump.
In Pennsylvania’s June 2 primary, about 2/3 of Democratic votes were cast by mail as opposed to in person; the opposite was true for Republicans, 2/3 of whom voted in person.
‘Vast majority’ of Philly election issues resolved easily, DA says
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office reported as of 9 p.m. that 67 of 68 election-related incidents had been “peacefully resolved."
”The vast majority of reported incidents involved concerns about unlawful electioneering or interference at polling sites," The D.A.'s Office said in a statement.
“Most issues involving misunderstandings or miscommunication about voting rules and laws were resolved by [District Attorney] Election Task Force prosecutors by phone, and DAO prosecutors and detectives also responded to investigate incidents at polling sites in all six Philadelphia Police divisions,” the D.A.'s Office said, adding that several incidents will require follow-up by investigators.
Reports can still be made to the task force by calling the 215-686-9641.The D.A.'s Office also reported that misinformation being shared online drove more calls to the hotline than actual incidents at polling sites.
These very first results are primarily from the mail ballots that counties spent the day opening and counting. Of the 431,000 votes the Department of State reported at 9 p.m., three-fourths were mail ballots.
And we know that Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to vote by mail.
So at first, the results will appear to favor Biden because of these initial mail results. But as counties shift to reporting nearly all their in-person votes in the next few hours, the Trump vote will come rushing in. That will be the first major shift (in addition to the minor fluctuations we’ll see throughout.)Expect a lot of variation, with Trump appearing to gain major numbers over the next few hours. The blue shift we’ve been warning you to watch for? That’ll happen in the hours and days after that.
Nurse treating COVID-19 patients was last voter at one Philly polling location
It was quiet at Benjamin B. Comegys School in Southwest Philadelphia when Luwam Amlak, clad in scrubs, hurried through the gates of the parking lot at 7:59 p.m. , a minute before polls closed.
Jerome Bonner, a voting machine inspector, told her to get it moving: “We been here all day,” he said, “we trynna go home."
Amlak, 25, a nurse on Einstein Hospital’s COVID-19 floor that has grown busier in recent days, was the last voter at the Southwest Philadelphia polling place.
“I’m happy,” she said, “got my stickers.”
Amlak had requested a mail-in ballot but it never came, leaving her to rush over from work after her 12-hour shift.
“I’m hoping for a positive outcome,” she said. She voted for Biden, whom she said had a better character than Trump — who she says has encouraged division. His supporters, she said, “it’s only their way or the highway.”
Pa. GOP seeks to set aside mail ballots with corrected mistakes
Lawyers for Pennsylvania Republicans on Tuesday night filed suit seeking to set aside all mail ballots by voters given the chance to correct possible mistakes — and contending that the Secretary of State’s recent guidance on the issue had violated state law.
The request for an injunction, filed in Commonwealth Court, was similar to a federal lawsuit filed earlier Tuesday, in which Republican lawyers sued to stop election officials in Montgomery County from contacting voters to correct issues with mail ballots, such as missing signatures on the outer envelopes.
Thomas King III, one of the attorneys who filed the statewide injunction request, said in an interview that he was not sure how many ballots might be impacted, but acknowledged that in some counties the tallies could be relatively low. He also said attorneys were not seeking the immediate disqualification of those votes; he believed the ballots needed to be sequestered so that lawyers could review them and litigate possible issues with them.
King said his biggest contention was that Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar had violated state law in instructing counties this week to provide information to representatives of political parties about potentially deficient ballots. At least seven counties had rejected Boockvar’s guidance as a result, according to King’s filing.
Boockvar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.
AP: Biden wins Virginia and Maryland while Trump takes South Carolina and Alabama
The Associated Press has determined Joe Biden has won electoral votes in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia, bringing his electoral vote total to 85.
They called races for President Donald Trump in South Carolina, West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee, bringing his electoral vote total to 55.
Nearly all those results were no surprise, the Associated Press reported: most of the states called so far are reliably blue or red.
New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker has won a second full term in the U.S. Senate as polls closed in the state with voters also deciding on the president, House and whether to legalize recreational marijuana cast nearly 3.8 million votes early.
New Jersey held its first mostly mail-in election — the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some people, including those concerned over voting by mail, decided to cast ballots in person Tuesday, but lines were not long at most polling spots.
Nearly 3.8 million voters have already returned their ballots to county officials, state election authorities have said. That’s 95% of 2016′s turnout.
Democrat Joe Biden also won New Jersey in the race for president. The contest between Biden and Republican President Donald Trum p wasn’t expected to be close, with Biden favored.
Everyone from first time voters to longtime talked about issues, including the coronavirus pandemic, protests against racism and police brutality, the economy, and taxes, as reasons they were motivated to show up to cast their ballots this election.
There were minimal problems reported across the state. Most alleged election issues in Philadelphia were resolved without incident, according to the District Attorney’s office.
The day started with a record number of more than 2.5 million mail ballots already returned by Tuesday morning with hours left for more to be returned and for others to cast in person votes. Al Schmidt, a Republican and one of three city commissioners who run Philadelphia elections said this afternoon that this election “will likely be the highest turnout election in decades.”
Philly region voter turnout appeared to surge in morning hours, then slow down
Voter turnout in the Philadelphia region surged in the morning, with voters around the city and suburbs standing in long lines for the polls. While some polling locations in Philadelphia didn’t see the expected post-work spike that they normally see, they did report longer-than-usual lines in the morning.
In West Philadelphia’s 27th Ward, Cynthia Dunlap, who’s been a poll worker for the 5th division of the ward for 11 years, said she’s seen more votes than ever this year.
By around 6 p.m. in the 5th division, so far 113 votes had been cast in person, and 284 mail-in ballots were received. “This is a reward for us,” Dunlap said. “In the past, we’d have under 200 total.”
The division, she said, is mostly college students, and she speculates that the number of mail-in ballots is so high because students living away from campus voted in the state.
City Councilmember Cherelle Parker, who is the ward leader of Northwest Philadelphia’s 50th Ward, said voter enthusiasm was high: “I haven’t felt the kind of excitement on the ground for an election the way I felt today,” she said. “Today there was a certain energy, like it was a passion. People came on a mission, they came to get a job done.”
She said the 50th Ward experienced long lines in the morning and an influx of voters later in the evening as well. She was anxious to find out the final turnout numbers at the ward. Because of the expansion of voting methods in Pennsylvania, she said, “some of the usual standard metrics we would use to gauge turnout — it’s a little different now,” she said. “I’m anxious to get the last count.”
Conversely, in Germantown’s 12th Ward, 22nd Division, Domingo Negròn, a Democratic committeeman, was waiting for an evening rush of voters at Canaan Baptist Church that by 6:30 pm seemed unlikely to materialize."
This morning was very busy, he said. “We usually get an evening rush but I’m still waiting for it.”
Mail in voting played a role, he said, but he thought COVID-19′s effect on the workforce, driving huge numbers of people to work from home, was significant too. Still, Negròn’s division got 316 voters between in person and mailed votes, about 80% turnout, he said.
“There was an absolute avalanche of voters first thing this morning, and then it seemed to quiet down, and we still have 45 minuets left or so,” Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, one of the city’s three elected officials in charge of voting, said around 7 p.m. “I think we’ll soon know whether turnout is up or enthusiasm is up — and everyone just couldn’t wait to vote. Whether it’s the same number of people, voting first thing, or else it’s just the numbers are up.”
In the suburbs, some polling locations had hours-long waits for voters. Voters were wrapped around Forest Grove Presbyterian Church in Furlong, Buck County, for upwards of four hours to vote — a combination of record turnout and social distancing and few staff inside the polling place.
By 1 p.m. Tuesday, hundreds of people were still lined up to vote outside Central Bucks High School in Warrington. Matt Hallowell, 73, said he’s been working the polls in Bucks County for more than 30 years. The last time turnout seemed this high, he said, was when Barack Obama first ran for president in 2008.
Montgomery County’s chief operating officer, Lee Soltysiak, said Tuesday afternoon that the county has seen a return rate of mail-in ballots in the upper 80s, and so far “pretty high volume on the in-person side.”
— Ellie Rushing, Julie Coleman, Jonathan Tamari, Andrew Seidman, Jason Laughlin, Aubrey Whelan
Anti-Trump group watches results at Independence Hall
City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier speaks at Refuse Fascism event outside Independence Hall on Election Day
Capping a month of daily protests, anti-Trump group Refuse Fascism set up a large screen, a DJ and a spread of food and drink to watch the election results roll in — all in front of the soft glow of Independence Hall.
A few dozen people gathered Tuesday evening at the event, where the demonstrators held signs that read “Trump/Pence must go!” They planned to hunker down in the area for hours.
Samantha Goldman, an organizer with Refuse Fascism, said the group would start a nonviolent march in the streets if Trump refused to concede, attempted to delegitimize the election process, or outright won.
She said while she was inspired by people who waited in line for hours or overcame intimidation to vote, she also felt “dread."
”It would be great if Trump said, ‘alright, cool, you guys don’t want me, I’m taking the rest of my fascist crew and heading out to Mar-A-Lago,’" she said. “I just don’t see that happening. And so I think there’s going to be a need… for there to be a force saying no to anything that is against the will of the people over the next couple months.”
Voters waiting in line wrapped around Forest Grove Presbyterian Church in Furlong, Bucks County.
Earlier today, people were waiting upwards of four hours to vote, a combination of record turnout, and social distancing and few staff inside the polling place.
As the country heads into the final hour and a half of voting, people are waiting about two hours, the shortest time so far at this location, said poll volunteer Meredith Taylor, 17.
Taylor said only one person was checking in voters this morning, and then the county sent over three or four more people to help alleviate the lines that extended around the church and into the cemetery.
Taylor has helped her dad volunteer as a poll worker at this station for years, she said, and this is the most voters she’s ever seen arrive here. Alyssa Ricardo, 33, has been waiting for about an hour and a half, and has just made it close to the door. When she voted at this station in 2016, it took her two minutes to get in and cast her vote.
“I’ve never seen it like this,” she said.
Ricardo’s husband, Bruce White, waited four hours to cast his vote this morning. She said he arrived in shorts, expecting to get in and out quickly, but instead had a long wait in cold weather.
‘Take a deep breath and be patient,' Gov. Wolf tells Pa. residents
As Pennsylvania polls were nearing their 8 p.m. closing time Tuesday, Gov. Tom Wolf shared a message of hope and patience for residents of the battleground state.
“Across the state, dedicated county workers are ready to tirelessly make sure everyone’s vote counts,” Wolf said in a recorded message. “But counting that tremendous number of ballots will take more time than we are used to.”
Wolf reminded Pennsylvanians that the result of the election likely won’t be known by the end of the night, and urged voters to “take a deep breath and be patient."
”What is most important is that we have accurate results, even if that takes a little longer," he said.
Nearly 83% of Pa. mail ballots have been marked as returned
Nearly 83% of mail ballots sent to Pennsylvania voters had been marked as returned to county election offices by Tuesday evening, as election officials continued to process them.
By the evening on Tuesday, 2,553,092 mail-in ballots had been returned in Pennsylvania, according to data from the Department of State.
In total, 3,082,307 mail-in ballots have been sent to voters across the state. 529,215 ballots have not yet been marked as returned — about 17.2% of the total mail ballots sent out in Pennsylvania have not been marked as returned.
USPS disregards court order to conduct ballot sweeps in 12 postal districts after more than 300,000 ballots cannot be traced
The U.S. Postal Service turned down a federal judge’s order late Tuesday afternoon to sweep mail processing facilities serving 15 states, saying instead it would stick to its own inspection schedule. The judge’s order came after the agency disclosed that more than 300,000 ballots nationwide could not be traced.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia had given the mail agency until 4:30 p.m. to conduct the “all clear” checks to ensure there would be enough time to get any found ballots to election officials before polls closed. His order affected 12 postal districts spanning 15 states.
But in a filing sent to the court just before 5 p.m., Justice Department attorneys representing the Postal Service said the agency would not abide by the order to better accommodate inspector’s schedules.
“This daily review process, however, occurs at different times every day,” DOJ attorney John Robinson wrote. “Specifically, on Election Night, it is scheduled to occur from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., a time period developed by Postal Service Management and the Postal Inspection Service in order to ensure that Inspectors are on site to ensure compliance at the critical period before the polls close. Given the time constraints set by this Court’s order, and the fact that Postal Inspectors operate on a nationwide basis, Defendants were unable to accelerate the daily review process to run from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00pm without significantly disrupting preexisting activities on the day of the Election, something which Defendants did not understand the Court to invite or require.”
Democrats simply want to reduce Trump’s margin of victory in south central Pa.
There was no illusion among Democrats in rural Fulton County Tuesday. The goal with the 2020 election was to put a dent in President Donald Trump’s margin of victory here.
In 2016, he took 84 percent of the vote.
“This year, we’re hoping to get him down in the 70s,” said Carolyn Klingerman, the chair of the county’s Democratic Party.
Fulton County, in south central Pennsylvania, is defined by mountains and the valleys and farmland between them, where most of its 14,523 residents live. There’s no college there, no island of blue voters, but the Democratic Party has a headquarters in downtown McConnellsburg, the county seat.
“You have to just be here, just have a presence,” Klingerman said.
When asked what defines the Republican voter in Fulton County, she said “the threat of losing their guns.”
At Buchanan Trail Shooters, a gun, ammo and outdoors store in McConnellsburg, co-owner Sally Hoover said that’s only partially true.
"It’s overall the whole conservative way of life and conservative values, " Hoover said. “People here don’t want their money taken and given away to people who don’t work.”
Hoover was holding a “voting sale” Tuesday, 10 percent off for any customer who voted.
“And I don’t ask them them who they voted for,” she said.
Short lines and congas for Latino voters in Kensington
Nyla Rodríguez, 20, felt like a grownup, after voting for the first time at John B. Stetson Charter School in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Rodríguez’s support of free college tuition and women’s empowerment led her to vote for Joe Biden. She was with her mother, María Lugo, 41, who said she prefers Trump but did not vote.
Nyla Rodríguez, 20, feels like a grownup, after voting for the first time, at Stetson. Joined by her mom, María Lugo, she said her interests in free college tuition & women’s empowerment led her to vote for Biden/Harris. Lugo, 41, prefers Trump, but didn’t vote. #ElectionDay2020pic.twitter.com/qxOTcvenpz
Voters were lined up around the block when the polling place opened Tuesday morning, observers said. By late afternoon, voters were able to come and go quickly at the site, with some walking in with grocery carts and others able to rush in before commuting to work.
But some were redirected other polling places. State Rep. Ángel Cruz said many voters “weren’t on the books,” and were sent to other polling places instead of being asked to fill out provisional ballots. Some Latinos, mostly the Spanish proficient and formerly incarcerated population of voters, said they felt discouraged.
At the corner of Front Street and Allegheny Avenue, people played the maracas and the conga in a get out the vote effort for Biden.
Much of Center City Philadelphia was quieter than usual on Tuesday. There was little foot traffic along the main shopping corridors.
Nationwide, retailers have already suffered an estimated $1 billion in insured losses from property damage and theft this year, according to estimates from the Insurance Information Institute, making this year’s protests “the costliest civil disorder in U.S. history.”
Among scores of other businesses, thieves last week ransacked more than 80 independent drug stores and two dozen liquor stores in Philadelphia and in nearby suburbs.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board boarded up the windows of many of those stricken Fine Wine and Good Spirit Shops. Those that remained open were ordered to close at 5 p.m. “until further notice,” said spokesman Shawn Kelly.
“Some liquor stores are still offering full service,” said Kelly. “But after last week many reverted to curbside service only.”
Most alleged Philly election issues resolved without incident, DA’s office says
By midday Tuesday, prosecutors responded to 52 reports of alleged interference or improper electioneering at polls in Philadelphia, a spokesperson for District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement.
Of those reported issues, 47 were resolved without incident. The ones that remained, including voters allegedly filming others in line against their wishes and harassing them, remained under investigation, the spokesperson said.
Officials directed concerned residents to turn to local news outlets for credible information about voting and other issues, and warned that misinformation has led to an increased number of calls to a hotline set up for issues at polling places.
Some Pa. voters are surrendering mail ballots to cast votes at the polls
Brian Marsh, 41, should have been able to cast his vote in Philadelphia on a machine after turning over his mail ballot. But the poll workers incorrectly had him fill out a provisional ballot instead.
He is not the only voter attempting to turn over a mail ballot to a poll worker to vote in person instead. Other voters told the Inquirer this week they were planning to do the same, worried that President Donald Trump might prematurely declare a victory before all the mail votes are counted.
“Being in Pennsylvania,” Marsh said, “it just feels really upsetting not to know that my vote will definitely count, you know, the possibility it may not count is increased.”
Al Schmidt, a Republican and one of three city commissioners who run Philadelphia elections, said voters should not worry: Provisional votes are counted.
“Procedurally, that’s not correct,” Schmidt said. “But at the end of the day, it is an eligible voter casting a vote that will count. No one is disenfranchised.”
Voters who requested a mail ballot can vote in person by turning over their mail ballots and envelopes to poll workers and have them voided before voting on a machine. If voters don’t hand over all those materials, they can fill out a provisional ballot, which is a paper ballot that’s not counted until elections officials confirm the vote should be accepted.
Even if other mishaps happen, like a voter returning their mail ballot and voting on a machine, but not signing an affidavit, or a voter attempting to submit a mail ballot while also voting in person, the elections system is built to catch it. If a voter casts a vote on a machine, Schmidt said, the mail ballot is then void.
These scenarios “involve procedural issues,” Schmidt said, “but neither results in disenfranchisement or two votes being counted."
”A lot" of Bucks County voters have been using provisional ballots," said Commissioner Robert J. Harvie Jr. Officials have also needed to print out more of the affidavits required for voters to sign when turning over their mail ballots.
David Thornburgh, CEO of the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan advocate for trustworthy government in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, said his organization has heard polling locations in the city were running low on the affidavits needed when voters surrender their mail ballots. This could indicate that many people are choosing to trade in their mail ballots to vote in person. (It’s easy to print more copies of the affidavits, Thornburgh said.)
Biden visits volunteers and community members in the Ogontz section of Philadelphia
Joe Biden visited the Ogontz section of Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon, where he thanked campaign volunteers and criticized President Donald Trump for questioning the integrity of Pennsylvania’s mail voting system.
“He thinks that he can decide who gets to vote,” Biden said. “Well, guess what? The people are going to decide who gets to be president.”
Outside a polling place in South Philly, no lines and a jazz trio
Outside a polling place in the gym at South Philadelphia High School, there was no line by mid afternoon but a festive atmosphere, including a jazz trio and free pulled-chicken and avocado tortas, courtesy of the People’s Kitchen and VoteFest.
The trickle of voters included some holding mail ballots they intended to surrender so they could vote by machine. A few of the 200 volunteers mobilized across South Philadephia by SEAMAAC, a nonprofit that supports immigrants and refugees, conducted exit interviews.
“There was a lot of uneasiness and anxiety coming into the election, but overall voter experiences have been generally positive,” said Thi Lam, the organization’s operations director. The only issues so far centered on poll-workers requiring voters to present ID against state election law, he said. “There’s been no major intimidation, just a little misinformation.”
Musicians perform at South Philly High polling place as voters move through line by mid afternoon
Leaving the polling place in a Temple hoodie, Stephen Rich, 27, a warehouse worker, said he had not bothered to vote in 2016. National politics just didn’t seem that relevant to him at the time. Now, he’s supporting Vice President Joe Biden.
“I just want to see change. I don’t think anything in the last four years has been handled well, or morally,” Rich said. In his view, the mishandling of the pandemic was the most important issue on the ballot.
She voted for Trump, he voted for Biden. They’re still married... ‘for now.’
How divisive could this election be?
Ask James and Diane DeBello, who waited online together in Millcreek, a suburb in Erie County, one of the most competitive swing areas inside one of the most competitive swing states.
Diane, 74, was for President Donald Trump. “He’s done so much for this country, it’s unbelievable.”
James wasn’t sure. He said he was undecided and would make up his mind once he got into the polling place.
But as he spoke to a reporter, he mentioned Biden’s call to raise taxes on people making $400,000 and up, and liked it. “Those people should pay their fair share,” James said. And then he coughed it up: he’s voting for the Democrat.
“I want to get a new president,” he said. “The Republicans always favored the rich.”
Just before the couple were heading into the polling place, we asked their names, and if they had the same last name.
Outside West Oak Lane election spot, Biden proclaims ‘Philly’s the key!’
Joe Biden drew cheers from a crowd of dozens outside Relish — the West Oak Lane restaurant that’s a hotspot for city politicos on Election Day — Tuesday afternoon.
The former vice president had spent about half an hour inside, and greeted supporters in a surgical mask on the restaurant’s steps. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he called to the crowd. “Philly’s the key!”
Biden spoke with U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, who has been conducting Zoom calls from inside the restaurant for much of the day, recreating a normal Election Day at Relish as best he can. State Sen. Art Haywood, city Councilmember Cherelle Parker, and former U.S. Rep. Bob Brady were also on hand.
Evans said Biden spoke to the importance of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in this election, adding that he needs this area to win, and emphasizing the importance of working together. The visit was “a semi-taste of what it’s normally like.”
Big turnout in Erie, one of the closest-watched counties in the country
A plane flew over the city of Erie Tuesday morning trailing a banner: “Vote Today” it read.
Many were: the county’s Democratic chairman, Jim Wertz, said it would “probably” see record turnout once all the mail ballots are counted.
The county in the state’s Northwest corner saw one of the biggest swings toward Trump in 2016, and became an emblem of the president’s appeal to white, working class voters. Analysts and political operatives will be watching its results as perhaps the most critical key bellwether that could tell us how Pennsylvania, and the entire election, will swing.
In many ways Erie is Pennsylvania’s Pennsylvania: a largely blue collar swing county with an urban core, politically competitive suburbs and vast rural areas with vast rural areas with corn fields, dairy farms, and sprawling vineyards used for Welch’s grape juice and Rust Belt wineries.
At a church in Millcreek, a suburban battleground within the battleground, a huge line waited when polls opened this morning, and a smaller line continued into the afternoon.
Each end of the line encapsulated the divisions in this election.
“I’m voting for Donald Trump because he’s pro-life and I think he’s the greatest president we’ve ever had in our lifetime. And the rest of them have all sucked,” said Linda MacMonagle, 50, wearing a Trump mask and scarf. “The immigration situation, he’s done a great job with that.”
A few dozen feet away, Tom Morgan, 38, said he was voting for every Democrat as a protest to the way Trump has led the country.
“It’s mostly the rhetoric — the dog-whistling to the ugliest pieces of our population,” Morgan said. “As a Black male, I actually feel less safe now than in my entire life.”
He said he’s supporting Joe Biden because “he’s a decent human being, and at this point any decent human being would be better than what we have.”
Inside Relish, an unusual Election Day due to COVID-19
The lunch guest was on mute. Technical difficulties, of course. Normally, inside Relish on Election Day, the West Oak Lane restaurant serves as a meeting ground for politicians and local leaders. This year, that can’t be, so Congressman Dwight Evans sat at a table by himself, watching a Zoom screen intently, waiting for sound.
“I see Izzy right there. She’s looking right at me,” Evans said, wearing a black mask that read VOTE. “Izzy” was State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, who is running unopposed for re-election. Aides buzzed around what’s normally a dining room, but today, is a nerve center with screens showing Zoom feeds. Evans' staff was livestreaming. Rubbing elbows had been replaced with a live show.
“We wanted to recreate the flavor,” Evans explained to The Inquirer. “Recreating as much as we could of what we had, I thought, was very good, to give them a sense that, even with the virus, we still gonna try to accommodate.”
Evans called out to Fitzgerald; an echo repeated her name.
“It sounds like you’re coming through a tunnel,” Fitzgerald responded. Evans stayed upbeat and asked her what she’d been observing. She’d seen no problems at polling places, rather she’d seen long lines of determined voters.
A woman inside the restaurant appeared with a sign that said: The audience can’t hear Izzy, can you repeat what she is saying?
Evans apologized to audience, but didn’t delay. He gave the state representative his regards and ended with a slogan: “Get out the vote!”
Most people in the voting line at the Ayr Township municipal building in Fulton County Tuesday afternoon seemed to know one another. Many left their cars idling in the gravel while they waited.
In the 2016 election, President Trump received 84% of the vote here, making it the “reddest” of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties that year.
Things didn’t seem much different Tuesday.
“I’m a Trump man,” said Tom Howells, 76, a retired history teacher. “I don’t like a lot of the things he does but with the Democrats, it seems as if they’re more interested in the power than the people.”
John Peck, a truck driver, echoed a sentiment that’s been repeated often in rural America since Trump’s victory.
“I think he listened to us,” Peck, 59, said.
Fulton County, like many red counties in Pennsylvania, has slowly lost registered Democrats. As of this week, registered Republicans numbered 6,801 here, nearly 1,000 more than February. Democrats numbered 2,104.
County Commissioner Randy Bunch, a Republican, believes about 1,400 people had voted early in Fulton County. Bunch, who owns a construction company, pulled up to the Ayr polling place around 1:30 p.m., accompanied by a Washington Post reporter.
“I’m thinking things look pretty good for the Republican Party,” Bunch said after he voted.
Bunch said there’s rarely ever a voting line in Fulton County. “Looks like most people came out early,” he said.
Despite confusion, Lancaster County will process ballots that arrive after Election Day
Lancaster County officials have rebuffed a suggestion from a Republican county commissioner that the county hold off on counting late arriving ballots until the U.S. Supreme Court gives further guidance.
Lancaster County Commissioner Ray D’Agostino late Monday wrote on his Facebook page that the county will process ballots that arrive until polls close — but suggested that any ballots that arrive after that will be set aside and not even opened until the high court rules on the matter.
Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania’s top election official, has said counties should segregate but count all ballots that arrive before 5 p.m. on Nov. 6.
She noted that unless the U.S. Supreme Court decides otherwise, the law currently requires that those ballots be processed. That is because Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court in September extended the deadline by three days for counties to receive mail ballots, as long as those ballots are postmarked by Election Day. The state’s justices said even ballots that don’t have a legible postmark should be counted, as long as they arrive by day’s end on Nov. 6.
Republicans have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the deadline extension, and the high court has left the door open to hearing the case.
D’Agostino could not be reached for immediate comment.
In an interview Tuesday, Mel Newcomer, Lancaster County’s assistant solicitor, said those ballots will be processed, as long as the U.S. Supreme Court does not direct otherwise.
“The [elections] board will follow the law as it is at this time, and will process those ballots,” he said.
‘Is that Joe Biden?’: Philly voters stop for a glimpse of Biden’s motorcade
Moving through Philly, Biden motorcade leaves National Constitution Center on Election Day
As word of Joe Biden’s Election Day stop for media interviews at the National Constitution Center traveled Tuesday, a small crowd formed at the corner of 5th and Race Streets in Old City, hoping to catch a glimpse of his motorcade.
Carolyn Semel, of Fairmount, was playing mini-golf with her children nearby when she heard Biden was inside the Constitution Center. “It’s exciting, I’m optimistic,” Semel, who voted absentee, said. “We might be seeing the next president of the United States.”
Nneka Smith, 31, was walking through Old City when she stopped with the crowd to catch a glimpse of the motorcade. Smith said she woke up around 4 a.m., excited about voting and expecting long lines at her polling place in Northern Liberties. But the experience went smoothly and quickly, she said. Now, it’s all about the wait.
“I’m anxious,” she said. “I’ll probably take a nap during the day and stay up to see what happens.”
Recent college graduates Danny Holton, Shannon Hope, and Grace Noice were sightseeing in Old City on their day off from driving the Planters Peanutmobile across the United States when they heard Biden’s motorcade was in the area.
“I think he might take us in a better position than we have been in the last few years,” Noice, 24, of Illinois said. “We just want to see more positive things in the world, for sure.”
She added: “It’s so surreal. All day I’ve just been like I can’t believe I’m in Philadelphia right now on such a historic day.”
As the motorcade quickly pulled out of the Constitution Center and traveled west on Race, the crowd cheered, recording the moment on their phones.
In Cambria County, election official says she was slapped during tense Election Day
Wendy Penrose, a judge of elections in Johnstown, said Tuesday has already been the most tense Election Day she has ever worked, with campaign workers squabbling over where they can place political signs, and people who wanted to vote in person despite having submitted mail ballots cursing her out for turning them away.
One man got so angry with the provisional ballot process that he slapped Penrose, she said.
“So many people are just getting carried away,” said Penrose, who is overseeing a polling place at St. Patrick’s Church Hall in the Moxham section of Johnstown.
The voter who slapped Penrose had requested a mail ballot, but he never turned it in and didn’t bring it with him to the polling place, she said. State law requires voters in that position to cast provisional ballots, which are counted separately and allow counties to ensure voters haven’t cast two ballots.
“He was kind of getting agitated because he didn’t know how to do it,” said Penrose, who volunteers for the Cambria County Democratic Party.
Penrose said she wasn’t hurt and did not file a police report on the man, whom she knows from the neighborhood. She said it was not clear who he intended to vote for.
Another voter accosted Penrose for not allowing the woman to vote in person because the poll book indicated she had already cast a mail ballot.
“She just cursed me up and down, and I said, ‘All I can tell you to do, ma’am, is, here’s the number — go call the courthouse,’” Penrose recounted.
Penrose fears the Election Day drama isn’t over.
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better today,” she said.
‘People are coming out’: Long line of voters at Central Bucks High School
By 1 p.m. Tuesday, hundreds of people were still lined up to vote outside Central Bucks High School in Warrington.
Matt Hallowell, 73, said he’s been working the polls in Bucks County for more than 30 years. The last time turnout seemed this high, he said, was when Barack Obama first ran for president in 2008.
“People are coming out. They’re saying they want to make a difference,” said Hallowell, a retired engineer.
Counting all the ballots in Pennsylvania is expected to take a few days. “I think you’ll see people getting upset,” he said, referring to potential uncertainty over the results. “I think they’ll figure something’s going on.”
Gere Bryers, a 65-year-old hospital administrator, said she voted for Trump because he opposes abortion rights and approaches government like a business.
Rina Kim, 49, works in sales. “We don’t want to be taxed and give the bulk of our income to the government” for programs that don’t seem to work," said Kim, though she declined to say who she voted for.
She said she was furloughed during the state government-imposed shutdown. “We need to get things back going,” Kim said.
Henry Yang, a 23-year-old medical student, voted for Biden. “I thought there needed to be a change in leadership,” he said, “especially with how the current president has handled the pandemic.”
'People malign his character all the time’: Votes for Trump in Bristol
In Bristol Township, Ken Hankin, 25, said he didn’t vote in 2016. But he voted Tuesday because “I honestly wanted to vote for Trump.”
“People malign his character all the time, but I believe that he is doing right for America. I want to see that continue,” said Hankin, an IT support consultant. Asked what Trump had done that he approved of, Hankin said Trump is “basically making the government do what it’s supposed to do, making the different branches do what they are supposed to do, per the Constitution.”
Hankin said he was “never particularly struck” by voting in the past but “I started getting more interested in the government and elections” and was paying more attention to politics in recent years.
Getting into their car after also voting for Trump in Bristol were Debbie and Anthony Weldon, who both credited the president with improving the economy.
“We think that we’re in a better place than we were four years ago,” said Debbie, 56, a federal worker. She cited jobs and the economy and said her 401K has seen a boost under Trump.
“I’m getting to retire in a year or so, and this is the best it’s been for us,” she said.
Anthony, 60, a former federal employee who is permanently disabled, said he didn’t agree with raising taxes on corporations.
“They’re the ones that create jobs,” he said, adding that Trump “does sometimes say the stupidest s—-, but I knew he wasn’t a politician... The payoff is what he’s doing for the country. He’s worried about America.”
Only a small number of complaints in Philly so far, according to district attorney’s office
By midday Tuesday, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s Election Task Force reported having investigated 25 complaints but said that the vast majority had been unfounded or easily resolved with no issue.
Most were tied to allegations of voter interference, including complaints that construction or crowds of reporters were partially blocking the entrances to polling locations.
Of the four unresolved complaints, the district attorney’s office said, each was determined either to be unfounded or set aside for investigation after Election Day.
Despite concerns before polls opened Tuesday of widespread attempts at voter intimidation, city prosecutors said the most excitement they’d had all day was debunking misinformation being spread on Twitter by a Trump campaign staffer who incorrectly alleged that signs supporting Biden had posted too close to a polling location at a Northeast Philadelphia elementary school in violation of state law.
District Attorney Larry Krasner has urged anyone wishing to report unlawful or criminal activity regarding voting or the election to contact the Election Fraud Task Force hotline at (215) 686-9641.
Above Philly, a message for voters: Trump loves the Cowboys
A small plane flying over Philadelphia is carrying a last-minute attack ad that could sway some undecided Eagles fans.
An aerial banner reading “DONALD TRUMP <3s JERRY JONES AND THE COWBOYS” circled the city skies Tuesday afternoon as Philadelphians cast their ballots. The ad was paid for by Rural America 2020, a non-profit advocacy group that opposes Trump and supports pro-agriculture policies.
Photos of the banner were widely shared on Twitter, with one tweet racking up more than 800 retweets and 3,300 likes as of 1:20 p.m.
This plane is currently circling Philadelphia with a banner that says "TRUMP <3'S JERRY JONES & THE COWBOYS" pic.twitter.com/jSWaNnqJym
The advocacy group said it paid for two aerial banners over Philly, with the other telling people to vote like their lives depended on it. Rural America 2020 said that ad was more serious, but said it “had fun” with the Cowboys banner.
just when i thought the dem establishment didn’t understand philadelphia i see a plane flying over the city that says Trump ❤️’a The Dallas Cowboys
Although it’s unclear whether Trump actually loves the Cowboys, the president does have a friendly relationship with Jones, the team’s owner. Last month, Jones called Trump “the hardest worker you’ve ever seen.”
'God willing it’ll pass’: Weed on the ballot in New Jersey
Appearing in Willingboro, Gov. Murphy said he was “hopeful and optimistic” that New Jersey voters approve the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“I got to supporting it first and foremost due to social justice,” he said, following an appearance with U.S. Rep. Andy Kim. "We inherited when I became governor the largest white, non-white gap of persons incarcerated in America and the biggest contributor to that was low end drug offenses.
“So God willing it’ll pass. We’ll then work with the legislature to that get up and running. And we’ll address one of the biggest social injustices in our state, and at the same time, by the way, secondarily, but importantly, will create jobs and economic activity.”
Murphy was joined by Rep. Andy Kim, who said an era of “fairness, equality, and justice” was on the ballot today.
“We can send a definitive message that this chapter of America is over,” Kim said to a crowd of chering supporters.
Federal judge orders sweep of Postal Service facilities in Philly and central Pa. for mail ballots
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordered the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday to immediately sweep its facilities in Philadelphia, Central Pennsylvania and 10 other locales across the country to ensure that all mail ballots it has received by Tuesday afternoon will be delivered the same day.
The order, from U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, gave USPS officials until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to certify that those sweeps had been completed and that there were no ballots left behind.
His order came amid heightened concerns that delays in mail processing could result in tens of thousands of ballots across the country being received in the days after the vote. That issue is of particular importance in the 28 states — not including Pennsylvania — that do not accept votes that arrive after Election Day, even if they are postmarked before.
Tuesday’s ruling will not prevent the Postal Service from continuing to deliver ballots they receive between that 4:30 p.m. deadline and when they close for the day. But it ensures that those already in mail processing centers will receive same-day delivery.
It is unclear just how many mail ballots might be affected. The USPS has already reported to the judge that it has “ballot monitors” installed in every processing center and that delivering mail ballots has been given priority over regular mail.
Officials have also said they plan to collect mail twice on Tuesday from all street corner mail dropboxes to ensure votes aren’t left behind.
In Pennsylvania, the state’s Supreme Court has said all ballots received after Election Day but before 5 p.m. Friday can be counted as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3.
But the ruling has been challenged by Republican officials and President Donald Trump, who took to Twitter on Monday to argue without evidence that allowing those votes to count could lead to fraud.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to step in before Election Day but left open the possibility that it could revisit the issue in the coming weeks.
In addition to Philadelphia and central Pennsylvania, Sullivan ordered the Postal Service to conduct similar sweeps for ballots in Detroit, Colorado, Wyoming, Atlanta, Houston, Northern New England, South Carolina, South Florida and Arizona.
Workers in Erie County are expected to process about 10,000 mail ballots today, out of roughly 51,000 returned, said County Council Member and Board of Elections Chair Carl Anderson III.
The rest will be counted in the coming days, but today’s process will stop at 11 p.m.
Inside the Board of Elections offices Tuesday morning, 10 workers fielded calls from voters and tried to contact anyone who had sent in a “naked ballot” — one that lacks a required secrecy envelope — or had another ballot issue.
Workers search a database, and if there isn’t contact information, they try to find another way to reach the voter. If the elections office can reach a voter about a problem discovered today, the person may have time to go to their polling place before it closes and cast a provisional ballot, Anderson said.
“If they don’t immediately find them, they do a search to find them,” Anderson said. “They don’t just give up.”
Before noon, election officials had found some naked ballots, as well as ones where the voter had erroneously signed the secrecy envelope, County Council Member and Board of Elections Member Kimberly Clear said.
“To me, it’s an honest mistake, but we can’t have any indicator of whose ballot it is, because it’s supposed to be secret,” Clear said.
During the first three hours of pre-canvassing, under 50 ballots had been set aside as deficient, Clear said. She did not know how many ballots had been pre-canvassed in that time, but she estimated the number of deficient ballots amounted to less than 1% of ballots so far.
"Just because of the nature of the election, I thought it was important to get out here and vote, Lefever said. “I was never that much into politics. I never really thought it affected me. I was just a blue-collar guy who went to work and got a paycheck. I never saw a need.”
Lefever didn’t think much of President Donald Trump’s complaints about a winner not being declared on Tuesday night, as the counting of mail ballots is likely to slow that process.
“I think as long as it takes for them to make the right decision and count the correct ballots, I think they should take as long as they need,” Lefever said.
‘Don’t forget who you are’: Common visits polls in West Philly
Rapper Common was at West Philadelphia’s Christy Rec Center on Election Day, and gave a sampling of his new project A Beautiful Revolution. He said, “That’s to all my youngins in Philadelphia and across the world."
”I thank Common for being out here today for encouraging people to get out to vote. A lot of people really look up to him," said councilmember Jamie Gauthier, who represents the Third District in West Philadelphia. “I told him that I’m new in office, I started in January and that this is the hardest year I’ve ever experienced ever as a Philadelphian and also it’s been a really tough year for my constituents, and I’ve been working as hard as possible to serve them through the pandemic and violence.”
Common visits the polls in West Philadelphia: 'Don't forget who you are'
Philly groups fan out across the city, promoting voting and hoping to prevent intimidation
About 100 Black men representing two pro-voting organizations are fanning out across the city keeping an eye on the polls. The men, from Black Voters Matters and It’s The Vote For Me, are encouraging voters to stay in line while also making sure they are safe.
“We want to make sure there is no intimidation and make sure people don’t have a hard time and that they feel safe,” said Ryan Harris, 34, founder of As I Plant This Seed an 8-year-old nonprofit that mentors inner-city youth.
As voters head to the polls, Pa. reports highest daily increase of COVID-19 cases
As residents cast their votes on Election Day, Pennsylvania reported the highest daily increase of COVID-19 cases since since the pandemic began.
Pennsylvania added 2,875 new coronavirus cases and 32 new deaths on Tuesday, as a spike in cases shows no sign of slowing down. The commonwealth has reported over 2,000 cases on seven of the last eight days, and nearly 215,000 Pennsylvanians have now tested positive for the virus.
Health Secretary Rachel Levine said despite the pandemic, it’s safe to vote in person today, but recommended residents wear a mask, pack their own pens, and bring hand sanitizer. She also said residents in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 can still vote in person, but should contact the contact the Pennsylvania Department of State for instructions.
“If someone is in quarantine there are ways that we have that they can vote,” Levine said Monday. “The Department of State will work out for people who are in quarantine to be able to exercise their right to vote.”
Planning to vote today? ‘Go now,’ says Pa. secretary of state
If you are planning to vote at the polls today or return your mail ballot, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar urged voters to “go now."
”The clock is ticking," she said. “You have only hours left to exercise your precious right to vote.”
Over 2.5 million mail ballots, more than 80% of ballots mailed to voters, have been returned as of this morning, Boockvar said. When comparing to prior elections, Boockvar said that historically, about 70 to 80% of ballots mailed to voters were cast to voters.
She estimates Pennsylvania will have 2.6 million mail ballots this year, which is ten times as many mail ballots cast in 2016.
“We expect very healthy turnout given the intense interest in this election,” she said, “and especially in Pennsylvania’s critical role in it.”
Boockvar also reminded voters that polls close at 8 p.m., but if they are in line by 8 p.m. they can vote. But if a voter has a mail ballot, they need to hand deliver it, not mail it, to a county elections office, a satellite elections office or other secure drop off locations as soon as possible.
Not all drop off locations will be open until 8 p.m., and unlike the polls, where if voters are in line by 8 p.m. they can still vote, all drop boxes will be closed at locked at 8 p.m.
“Don’t cut it close. If you’re voting by mail, drop it off early, early, early.”
No major voting issues in Philly so far, according to Republican committee chair
State Rep. Martina White, chair of the Republican City Committee in Philadelphia, said her party was on the look-out for trouble at polling places. She did not know of any major problems so far in the city. pic.twitter.com/pLokhTYjRP
State Rep. Martina White, chair of the Republican City Committee in Philadelphia, said her party was on the look-out for trouble at polling places. She did not know of any major problems so far in the city.
“I think Election Day is always challenging,” she said. “But we continue to have poll watchers on site and there is also a team of attorneys roaming around the city.”
White, who took over as chair last year, spoke while campaigning outside the Stephen Decatur Elementary School in the 66th Ward. She is seeking another two-year term in the state House.
Asked about support for President Donald Trump in Northeast Philadelphia, she said, “I think a lot of the success comes from the growth of the Republican Party here in Philadelphia. We’ve been trying really hard to make sure people hear our message and that we’re fighting for them.”
As the counting of mail ballots officially got underway Tuesday in Pennsylvania, disputes over access to the canvassing by GOP monitors and questions over how far election officials can go to alert voters who incorrectly submitted their ballots immediately resulted in legal challenges.
In Montgomery County, Republican lawyers sued in federal court to stop election officials there from contacting voters to correct deficiencies in their mail ballots. They also complained that their canvas monitors were being kept too far away from the actual canvassing to provide any meaningful oversight.
The Trump campaign raised similar challenges in Philadelphia’s election court.
“Pennsylvania voters should not be treated differently based on the county where they are required to vote,” wrote Andrew Teitelman, the lawyer who filed the federal court suit on behalf of a voters in Montgomery and Berks Counties.
In the suit, Teitelman alleged that in the run-up to the Election Day, Montgomery County officials had been contacting voters who incorrectly submitted their mail ballots and inviting them to come to the county administration building to correct them.
Though election officials were prohibited from opening mail ballots before 7 a.m. Tuesday, some deficiencies – such as if a voter forgot to sign the outside envelope for their ballot – are evident before they are opened.
In a letter sent Monday, Joe Foster, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee, argued that staff at polling places have always helped voters make sure they are casting their ballots correctly and with a greater reliance this year on mail votes county officials weren’t overstepping when they contacted voters, regardless of party, to either correct their ballots or to alert them to vote on Election Day instead
In Philadelphia, GOP lawyer Linda Kerns alleged Democratic canvassing monitors sought to obtain information on mail ballots deemed deficient so they could alert the voters to cast a proper vote before polls close for the day.
But during a break in court, Kerns told Common Pleas Court Judge Abbe Fletman that she has since heard the behavior is not happening anymore. She told a reporter later during the break that she did not know if that was true and did not know how many voters' information were allegedly sought.
Judges have not yet held full hearings on either case.
O’Malley, a Democrat, cast his ballot for former Vice President Joe Biden after 40 minutes in a cold, blustery line outside the The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush. He thinks Trump might win his ward again.
“I’m afraid to say it but he just has a lot of support up here,” O’Malley said. “And I don’t always vote with the Democratic Party. Hey, you’ve got to vote with your heart.”
Gov. Murphy in Atlantic City: ‘I’m sick of traitors!’
A fired up New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy rallied his Democratic troops in Atlantic City Tuesday morning on behalf of Amy Kennedy, who is running to unseat.Rep. Jeff Van Drew in New Jersey’s 2d Congressional District.
“I’m sick of traitors!” Murphy called out to the group gathered in a parking lot on Atlantic Avenue. “I want to put Jeff Van Drew into retirement.”
Van Drew, a lifelong Democrat from Cape May County, left the party in December and pledged “undying support” to President Trump. Amy Kennedy is a former public school teacher who is married to former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Murphy said 3.7 million votes had been cast in New Jersey in advance of Election Day, just 200,000 less than 2016′s total turnout. Murphy greeted the volunteers Monday morning and told a few to pull masks up over their noses.
Amy Kennedy did not attend the event as she was in contact over the weekend with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19.
Biden thanks supporters in Scranton, visits his childhood home
Biden stopped by his childhood home on Washington Avenue in Scranton, visiting with the owner, Anne Kearns who purchased it from Biden’s family in 1962.
Biden brought two of his granddaughters and took them inside for a tour. Inside he signed a wall “from this house to the White House, by the grace of God.
”Across the street, a crowd of neighbors gathered with signs. They chanted “Let’s go Joe!” As he arrived, Biden asked them, “did you go out and vote?” The crowd cheered affirmatively.
Before leaving, Biden abruptly crossed the street, having spotted Marge Grady, 95, who still lives across the way. Biden thanked Grady for looking out for him when he was a kid and Grady wished him luck today.
Also gathered were Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, whose order taught Biden as a kid. The block is also home to Sen. Bob Casey’s mom.
NEW: A picture from Scranton. Joe Biden just signed this on the living room wall in his childhood home here. For context, he did this in the bedroom during the 2008 race. @axiospic.twitter.com/R9sKjG6Ktv
“I knew he’d be here because he always told her he would always come visit every time he comes to Scranton,” said Mary Clare Kingsley, whose aunt, Kearns, owns the house. “I’d be ecstatic,” she said of a Biden win. “I can’t wait for it to happen. Scranton’s behind him and he’s gonna bring Scranton with him.”
Before visiting his childhood home, Biden stopped in South Scranton at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and joiners of America local 445, where he spoke briefly to union members and greeted campaign workers who were distributing canvassing materials to volunteers in the parking lot.
Gary Ford, president of local 445, said Biden and Harris have worked hard on outreach in the area, more than Clinton’s campaign did four years ago.
“This was the cherry on top,” he said. “I’ll never forget this day -especially when he becomes president.”
Campaign worker and lifelong Scrantonian Roger Sillner agreed, and said Clinton’s campaign seemed to suffer from overconfidence when it came to connecting with local voters.
“If Biden and Harris are not successful, it will not be for lack of effort,” said Sillner, 64.
So far, lines moving quickly in and around Philadelphia
Long lines that formed outside of polling places in and around Philadelphia appear to be moving quickly as residents cast their votes.
In South Philadelphia, voters wrapped in two lines around the blocks, waiting to cast in-person ballots at St. Maron’s Church. But the lines moved swiftly, and are far shorter now than they were when the polls opened.
Long lines in Overbook, at Roxborough High School and at the Commodore John Barry Arts and Cultural Center in Mount Airy have also cleared quickly.
Patricia Marguerite Clay, a West Philly resident, said she waited about 20 to 25 minutes in like at 7:30 a.m. to vote at a barbershop on 52nd Street and Locust, which she felt was reasonable.
Clay said she felt it was important to cast her ballot on Election Day and participate in the process, especially amid the protests in Philadelphia against racial injustice.
“We say Black Lives Matter... You can protest, you can make some noise,” Clay said, “but then you need to make some noise at the ballot.”
— Chris Brennan, Cassie Owens, Raishad Hardnett and William Bender
In solidly Republican York County, voters express a lack of trust in the mail
Darcelia Tyson showed up to her York city polling place at about 6:15 a.m. She wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt and a mask with the words faith, hope, and love printed on it. She was first in line.
“I didn’t trust the mail,” said the 65-year-old Tyson, who was a child-care worker before the coronavirus pandemic.
York County is solidly Republican. Four years ago, Trump won the county by 29 percentage points or 60,000 votes. But the city of York is solidly Democratic — Hillary Clinton received over 90% of the votes in Tyson’s precinct.
About a dozen voters waited inside a hallway at Crispus Attucks community center just before the polls opened at 7 a.m. A worker with Election Protection, a voting rights organization, waited outside, holding a sign asking people if they had voting questions.
Sebastian Santos, 20, said Pennsylvania’s new mail voting system was stressful. He said he requested a ballot multiple times and never received one.
“The system just says that it was delivered on the 13th, and I should have received it,” Santos said. “I didn’t get anything.”
He cast a provisional ballot on Tuesday. That process was easier than he expected, but those ballots can still be challenged.
“It’s a little worrisome,” Santos said. “But I feel OK that I got to say something, contribute a little bit.”
In Bucks County, voters discuss their support for both Trump and Biden
In Doylestown Borough in Bucks County, dozens of people waited to vote at the Doylestown Fire Company Tuesday morning in a line snaking around Geronimo Brewing and onto Court Street.
Among those there was Joanne Trovato-Brown, who said she arrived at 6:30 a.m. and voted for Democrats up and down the ticket, starting with Joe Biden.
“Because I have a brain,” she said, with a laugh. “That might be one reason.” She said she follows politics closely and considers Trump “a despicable man. Everything he does is despicable.”
Not far behind her was Julian Kendter, 19, who voted in his first presidential election for Donald Trump.
Wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” cap, Kendter said he chose Trump mostly due to concerns about economic recovery from the pandemic.
Kendter, whose family owns a toy store and who works at another small business, said that while his family’s business had reopened, “even so, sales are down. I’m afraid that increased taxes and all that will bankrupt the business even more.”
Pennsylvania voters have returned 2.5 million mail ballots, according to data from the Department of State. That’s more than 80% of all ballots requested.
More than 3 million mail ballots have been sent to voters. That leaves nearly 600,000 mail ballots that have not yet been marked as returned. In the last week, more than 790,000 completed mail ballots were returned to county election offices.
Nearly 63% of mail ballots were requested by registered Democrats, while Republicans requested about 25%. Nearly 12 percent were requested by registered independents.
Have a mail ballot? You can still drop it in a blue collection box today.
If you have a mail ballot, you can still drop it in the blue U.S. Postal Service collection boxes.
USPS is emptying every collection box twice today, then hand-sorting and hand-delivering the ballots to local boards of elections. No ballots will be brought to the processing plant.
“We are working so hard to move heaven and Earth so that everybody’s ballots make it to the board of elections on time,” said Joe Rodgers, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Keystone 157.
The Postal Service has dramatically increased delivery and collection trips across the country, postal officials said. Monitors have been added to post offices across Philadelphia to ensure no ballots are left behind each day, and letter carriers worked full shifts over the weekend, instead of the normal part-time hours.
It’s Election Day, and the polls are now open in Pennsylvania, with lines already forming in Philadelphia and across the region.
Shortly after polls opened, about 100 people stood in the parking lot of St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Devon waiting to get inside. Lines of parked cars clogged the narrow residential street outside the church as joggers and people walking dogs passed by.
About 100-200 people were in line at the Gauntlett Center in Newtown Township when the polls opened. A line of people stretched through the lawn and into the parking lot of a funeral home next door. The parking lot was jammed.
There were also long lines in Chestnut Hill, Overbrook Park, and Point Breeze as polling places opened.
Voting is underway in Center City at the Land Title Building. Danie Greenwell, the polling place’s judge of elections, said voters started lining up at 6 a.m., an hour before polls opened. pic.twitter.com/j6OlSuWtsi
Good morning from the Cranberry Twp municipal building, Butler County, where the parking lot is full & voters are already wrapped around the building. There are 3 polling sites here. Cranberry is one of the most populous parts of the county, ~30min from Downtown Pgh #ElectionDaypic.twitter.com/EHhkzgMCVc
If you requested an absentee ballot but were afraid to put it in the mail, you can still vote today. You’ll need to turn over your mail ballots and envelopes at your polling place and have them voided before voting on a machine.
If you received an absentee ballot but don’t have all the materials to turn over at the polls, you can fill out a provisional ballot, which is a paper ballot that’s not counted until elections officials confirm the vote should be accepted.
These Pa. counties won’t start counting mail ballots until Wednesday, possibly skewing early results
Officials in Pennsylvania agree it’s going to take a while to count all of the ballots cast in this election, and that means we won’t know the final results on Election Day.
Despite mounting pressure from the state’s top election official, a handful of counties maintain they will not begin counting mail ballots on Election Day, with officials there saying they don’t have enough personnel to do it while also running an in-person election.
Dorene Mandity, the director of elections in Beaver County, said staff will be waiting until Wednesday to begin counting mail ballots. Nearly 82% of the county’s 34,699 requested ballots were returned to the county as of Monday.
“It’s better procedure for us,” Mandity said, noting the county elections office is a small room. “I can’t do everything simultaneously.” Mandity added that the county did not begin counting mail ballots until the day after the June primary.
Holly Brandon, the elections director in Montour County, also cited a small space and limited staff as reasons for waiting until Wednesday to begin counting the 3,145 mail ballots received so far. She said the state offered money to help — Boockvar said at a news conference Friday that financial assistance was still available through federal COVID-19-related funds and through private foundation grants — but Brandon said it was too late for that.
The counties of Cumberland, Franklin, Greene, and Juanita also won’t begin reporting mail ballot results until Wednesday, although some election officials among that group said they would start processing them on Tuesday.
Thad Hall, the elections director in Mercer County, said he’s focused on making sure Election Day goes smoothly for voters before he has to worry about processing mail ballots, which his staff will begin on Wednesday.
“I have to be in a position to spend my day addressing the needs of my Election Day voters and then once we are done with that, then we’ll turn to addressing the mail-in ballots,” he said.
Getting to the polls: Rideshare and Indego offering discounts, free options available
Still need to vote, but not sure how to get there? Between free and discounted rides, budget-friendly options are available to those planning to drop off their ballots or head to the polls in person, including a free “Voter Express” trolley that began Sunday.
For those figuring out where to go, The Inquirer’s comprehensive “How to Vote in 2020” guide has the answers to all your questions — from where to find a polling location, drop box, or satellite election offices to what hours the polls will be open on Tuesday.
SEPTA and PATCO will be available for voters looking for transportation options, but here are some others to consider, including options from Indego, rideshare services, a “voter express,” and the faith group POWER.
Election Day forecast: At least for the weather, the forecast is ultra-calm
After a historically tempestuous campaign season, Tuesday could well turn out to be one of the most peaceful Election Days on record. At least from the atmosphere’s perspective.
This time of year, storms are prone to form as temperature contrasts sharpen across the Northern Hemisphere, but tranquil conditions should be the landslide winner throughout the nation on Tuesday, forecasters say.
The only blemishes would be some rain in the Pacific Northwest and snow showers in northern New England. “The weather is looking pretty good,” said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc.
Weather should be dry in all the major battleground states, including Pennsylvania, where the sun and seasonable temperatures will rule from the Ohio border to the Delaware River
In any election, teasing out weather as a variable in turnout is a complicated exercise, but forecasting how it will play out this time is going to be particularly challenging, said Brad T. Gomez, a political science professor at Florida State University who has wrestled mightily with the question.
Voters are heading to the polls Tuesday for an Election Day unlike any other. The Inquirer will have reporters around the Philadelphia region and across Pennsylvania to bring you the latest updates as the day unfolds. We’ll have the latest all day from polling places on turnout, what it’s like casting ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic, and voters' viewpoints. While many races may not be called Tuesday night because mail ballots have not yet been counted — some Pennsylvania counties won’t even start that process until Wednesday — we’ll keep you updated on what we know, and what we don’t.
Here’s our latest coverage if you’re looking to catch up on the races in Pennsylvania, voting in the Philadelphia area, and what to watch for: