Due to an unprecedented surge of mail voting, ballots are taking longer to count than they have in the past. A handful of major swing states — including the potentially decisive Pennsylvania — have not yet been called. Some Pennsylvania counties only started tallying mail ballots Wednesday.
Due to an unprecedented surge of mail voting, ballots are taking longer to count than they have in the past. A handful of major swing states — including the potentially decisive Pennsylvania — have not yet been called. Some Pennsylvania counties only started tallying mail ballots Wednesday.
‘Overwhelming majority’ of Pa. ballots will be counted by Thursday, state election official says
The majority of Pennsylvania’s votes will likely be counted by Thursday, the commonwealth’s secretary of state said in an interview with ABC News Wednesday night.
“We’re actually ahead of schedule of where I thought we’d be,” said Kathy Boockvar in an interview with George Stephanopoulos. “I now believe that the overwhelming majority of ballots will be counted by tomorrow.”
There are less than a million votes left to count, she said. Boockvar had previously said the majority of votes would likely be counted by Friday.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar says they are “ahead of schedule,” with “under a million” ballots yet to be counted in Pennsylvania.
About 2.8 million mail-in ballots have been received by the state, she said, and they are contributing to a surge in votes for Joe Biden that could tilt the state in his favor. The vast majority of mail in ballots have been from Democrat voters.
A final vote tally from Pennsylvania could stretch into next week, though. Still being accepted are late arriving ballots, which the state Supreme Court said could be counted if they arrived by Nov. 6. That decision is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court through a filing joined by the Trump campaign, which has sought to cast doubt on Pennsylvania’s vote counts as Trump’s advantage in the state has shrunk.
The state is also waiting for military and overseas ballots.
Pennsylvania voters have beaten 2016′s record of 6.1 million presidential votes cast.
More than 6.29 million votes had been counted and reported as of Wednesday night, according to unofficial results from the AP.
And both Donald Trump and Joe Biden received more than three million votes each, exceeding Trump’s winning 2016 vote total.
At least 175,000 more votes were cast for president this year, according to unofficial results Wednesday night from the AP. That number will increase as hundreds of thousands more mail ballots are counted.
In 2016, Trump received 2.97 million votes to Hillary Clinton’s 2.93 million. As of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Biden had received nearly 3.02 million and Trump received more than 3.2 million. (The gap of 187,000 votes was smaller than it had been earlier and is expected to shrink further and potentially even reverse, as the counting of mail ballots continues the “blue shift” in Biden’s favor.)
Turnout surged across Pennsylvania, with voters in at least 52 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties casting more presidential votes than they did four years ago. Topping the list as of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday were Montgomery County, which had 48,000 more votes than in 2016, Lancaster County, which had 32,400 more votes, York County, which had 26,000 more votes, and Northampton, which had 24,000 more votes.
Another eight counties had at least 10,000 more presidential votes cast this year.
Those vote totals will continue to tick upward as mail ballots and provisional ballots are counted, and more counties are likely to join the 52 in having more votes this year than in 2016.
There’s a lot of noise around Pennsylvania’s election. These people are keeping their focus on counting votes.
PITTSBURGH — Outside a former metalworks warehouse on the north side of the city, it’s around-the-clock news coverage, speculation, misinformation, litigation, and anxiety about Pennsylvania’s election results.
Inside, it’s all about the count.
A sea of black totes containing already scanned ballots spreads across one side of the warehouse, under the guard of several armed county law enforcement officers. On the other side of the building, 30 workers scan ballots nonstop, processing about 13,000 an hour. And watching over them from inside a large rectangular pen are representatives of both campaigns.
“I know it’s tough for people to wait and people are frustrated by the wait,” said Allegheny County Solicitor Andy Szefi. “I would ask that people be patient. We knew going into this process that it wasn’t going to be done yesterday or today because of that extension, and that’s just where we are now. We’re just living in the reality that we knew was coming.”
Trump campaign chief says Pa. remains key to success
As Pennsylvania counties continue to count votes, President Donald Trump’s campaign said Wednesday night that the state remained key to the president’s chances of holding on to the White House.
“This race is going to come down to Pennsylvania,” campaign manager Bill Stepien said on a conference call, while pledging to fight to “make sure Gov. Wolf doesn’t come up with some magical votes out of Philadelphia in thin air overnight.”
He and other campaign officials reiterated their plans to argue in court to halt vote counting, and noted a lawsuit filed Wednesday challenging guidance from Pennsylvania’s secretary of state that Trump’s lawyers say illegally extended the deadline for absentee voters to present proof of identification.
“This is just a blatant power grab by your secretary of state,” said deputy campaign manager Justin Clark.
They also noted their call for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling allowing for ballots received by Friday to be counted — though how many ballots could be at stake is unknown.
Wolf vows to 'fight every single attempt to disenfranchise voters’
Pennsylvania officials pushed back Wednesday night against calls from the Trump campaign to halt ballot counting in the state, where President Trump’s vote advantage is dwindling.
“These attempts to subvert the democratic process are simply disgraceful,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a news conference. “We’re going to fight every single attempt to disenfranchise voters.”
The Trump campaign has threatened lawsuits, including one that would stop vote counting over claims that Republican canvassing monitors had been kept too far away to observe the count. It also joined a case before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling to allow ballots that arrive by Friday and were either postmarked by Election Day or have no postmarks or illegible postmarks.
Those late-arriving ballots so far number in just the hundreds, said Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State. They would be counted, she said, but set aside pending the high court’s decision. She noted the state routinely counts ballots mailed by people in the military that arrive after Election Day.
“We don’t have any anticipation that the vote count is going to stop,” she said.Tallying all the state’s ballots, though, could still take days, Boockvar said. She also dismissed claims that there were ballots being “found” to boost Biden’s prospects in the state.
“It’s just not happening,” she said. “There’s no evidence of anything that’s alleged.”
About 3 million people applied for mail-in ballots this year, Wolf said. The count is taking days, he said, because state law doesn’t permit the ballots to even be removed from envelopes until 7 a.m. on Election Day.
Democrat Joe Biden has carried Michigan and its 16 electoral votes, further dismantling Donald Trump’s Rust Belt wall of support that helped deliver him the presidency four years ago.
The flip from red back to blue was a huge blow to Trump, whose victories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2016 sent him to the White House. Biden also carried Wisconsin, though Pennsylvania hasn’t been called yet.
Eric Trump, Rudy Giuliani come to Philly and call for mail ballots to be invalidated
President Donald Trump’s son, Eric, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani called Wednesday for mail ballots being counted in Philadelphia and other major cities in swing states to be invalidated, complaining that Republican Party observers can’t get close enough to see how they are being handled by elections officials.
Like his father, Eric Trump prematurely claimed the president had won Pennsylvania, as the vote tally continued. Trump campaign advisor Corey Lewandowski repeatedly yelled “no questions” when reporters at a hastily called news conference tried to ask about their claims.
“Guys, this is fraud,” Trump said of the process for counting ballots. “They’re trying to make a mockery of the election of this country.”
The Trump campaign has filed a slew of lawsuits in Pennsylvania, raising similar complaints before the election. Judges at the city, state and federal level have all dismissed those actions, noting a lack of evidence.
Trump and Giuliani vowed Wednesday to file more state and federal lawsuits, mentioning only swing-states where Trump is trailing or former Vice President Joe Biden has been projected as the winner.
“This is among one of the most anti-Democratic things I’ve ever encountered,” Giuliani said. “And it’s not just here. It’s going on all over the country.”
Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, also cited ballot tallies in Arizona, Nevada, and Michigan.
He said Republican observers are being kept “20 or 30 feet away” as ballots are tallied at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. He called for at least 120,000 ballots tallied in this process to be cut from the count.
“This is a concerted effort by the crooks that run the Democratic Party,” Guiliani said. “We’re not going to let them get away with it. We’re not going to let them steal this election. This election is going to be decided by the people.”
Trump and Giuliani spoke at an aviation firm that services private jets at Philadelphia International Airport after their plans to speak earlier in the afternoon outside the Convention Center were canceled as protesters and hecklers showed up, demanding that all ballots be counted.
At a Trump campaign news conference in Philadelphia, Rudy Giuliani falsely claimed President Donald Trump won the state of Pennsylvania.
Giuliani wondered why Trump was not declared the victor in Pennsylvania once it became clear he had a strong lead among voters who cast ballots in person.
“Do you think we’re stupid?” he asked. “Do you think we’re fools.”
Biden says he feels 'very good about Pennsylvania’ as votes are still being counted
Joe Biden refrained from claiming victory in brief remarks Wednesday afternoon, but spoke as a man expecting to win.
“I’m not here to declare that we’ve won,” Biden said from Wilmington. “I am here to report that when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners.”
With a projection that he would win Wisconsin, and the count in Michigan going in Biden’s favor, the former vice president sounded bullish on his chances in Pennsylvania as well. Most of the remaining votes to be counted are mail ballots, and Biden has been winning 78% of those votes statewide.
“I feel very good about Pennsylvania," Biden said.
Without mentioning the president by name, Biden framed the ongoing count as an essential expression of the people’s will.
“Here the people rule,” he said. “It is their will that determines who will be President of the United States, and their will alone.”
Even as he emphasized that victory was not yet certain, Biden pivoted to language aimed to heal a nation deeply divided over Tuesday’s tight election results. He asked Americans to set aside the divisions of the presidential campaign.
“I know this won’t be easy. I’m not naive,” he said. “I know how deep and hard the opposing views are in our country on so many things. To make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies. We are not enemies.”
Trump campaign says he has won Pennsylvania — but that’s premature
President Donald Trump’s campaign just said he’s won Pennsylvania. That is entirely premature.
It’s certainly possible that when all votes are counted, Trump ends up beating out Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
But right now, the Associated Press and other reliable news organizations that rigorously pore over the data to declare winners haven’t called the race, and political insiders in both parties say the Pennsylvania contest looks close. More than 1 million Pennsylvania votes haven’t been counted yet, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. There simply isn’t enough information to know who won.
Still, the Trump campaign declared victory Wednesday afternoon, minutes ahead of a news conference scheduled to occur in Philadelphia including Trump’s son Eric Trump and attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
The attack on the count in the state also included a baseless campaign assertion that Democrats were “scheming to disenfranchise and dilute” the GOP vote.
Meanwhile, at a news conference in Wilmington on Wednesday afternoon, Biden said “after a long night of counting it’s clear that we are winning enough states to reach 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.”
Philly is still counting ballots 24/7, but officials don’t know when they will finish
Philadelphia’s City Commissioners, who oversee voting in the city, held off on setting a timetable when vote counting would be done in a news conference Wednesday.
“I don’t want to hold us to a hard fast deadline,” Commissioner Lisa Deeley said.
Workers are continuing to work hard, she said, “and we will continue to throughout the night to get this done.”
As of shortly before 4 p.m., 233,468 of 353,000 mail-in ballots received so far have been scanned, and 97% of the city’s in person votes have been tallied. Statewide, Trump holds a roughly 250,000 vote advantage, but 17% of votes remain to be counted, according to the New York Times, with a significant portion of them in Democrat strongholds, including Philadelphia.
233,468 of Philly's 353,000 mail-in ballots received so far have been scanned, Philly Commissioners say at an afternoon briefing. pic.twitter.com/9RJKXyB16B
There are still 50,000 mail ballots received by 8 pm. on Election Day that Montgomery County needs to count, which could take up to 24 hours, said Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr., vice chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.
Lawrence said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference that he expects the number of mail ballots to increase as the military overseas ballots continue to come in.
The county has also received 153 mail ballots since the 8 p.m. deadline, he said. As long as ballots are postmarked by Nov. 3, the state Supreme Court has allowed counties to receive mail ballots up to three days after Election Day.
“We are committed here in Montgomery County to making sure that we count every ballot,” Lawrence said. “We just ask for people to be patient. This is a normal part of the process. We knew we would have more mail in ballots and we just need time to count them.”
U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Bucks County Republican who campaigned as a moderate and kept President Donald Trump at arm’s length, has won reelection even as most voters in the Philadelphia suburbs have rejected the GOP under Trump.
Fitzpatrick defeated Democrat Christina Finello to win a third two-year term representing a perennial battleground district that Hillary Clinton narrowly carried in 2016, and where strategists in both parties expected Joe Biden to win easily.
With about 80 percent of the projected vote counted, Fitzpatrick had a 75,000 vote margin over Finello, or about a 3-2 ratio.
President Donald Trump vowed to challenge Pennsylvania’s election results in court on multiple fronts Wednesday, even as the commonwealth continued its painstaking process of tallying the vote.
Repeating thus far unfounded claims that the Democrats in Pennsylvania were “scheming to disenfranchise and dilute” the GOP vote, his campaign said planned to file three legal challenges — including one that would seek to temporarily halt vote counting in the state over claims that Republican canvassing monitors had been kept too far away to meaningfully observe the process.
“The eyes of the country are on Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania has kept eyes off the absentee ballot counting process all along, and that must stop today,” the campaign said in a statement."
The third legal challenge outlined by the campaign centered on what the campaign described as a last-minute change to deadlines for first-time voters to provide ID with their absentee and mail-in ballots.
He did not say whether he would pursue those cases in state or federal courts. And as of Wednesday afternoon only the motion to join the case before the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to have been filed.
In all cases, Democrats have maintained that their efforts to extend deadlines during this unusual election were to ensure more people had the opportunity to vote. They have dismissed Trump’s claims as an attempt at disenfranchisement.Speaking to CNN on Wednesday, Attorney General Josh Shapiro defended the canvassing so far and vowed that vote counting would continue.
“There is transparency in this process,” he said. “The counting has been going on, there are observers observing this counting, and the counting will continue.”
Protesters were responding to President Donald Trump’s claim in a 2 a.m. speech that counting all legally cast ballots was “a fraud on the American public.” He falsely claimed that he had won the election even as millions of Americans' ballots — including Pennsylvanians' — had yet to be counted.
As officials in Philadelphia, its suburbs, and the counties across the state work around the clock counting mail ballots, the crowd in Center City Wednesday chanted, “Count every vote!”
“We’re here to honor the election. We are here to honor counting every single legally filed vote,” said Vicki Miller of Indivisible Philadelphia, addressing the crowd. “It’s going to take a little patience. It’s going to take a little time. We knew that before the election, didn’t we; we knew that this vote was not going to come out instantaneously.”
Allegheny County counting about 13,000 mail ballots an hour
Boxes of ballots guarded by Allegheny County law enforcement wait to be counted at a large former metalworks warehouse located on Pittsburgh's north side.
As the country waits to learn which presidential candidate will capture Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, Allegheny County workers at a Pittsburgh warehouse are processing about 13,000 mail ballots an hour, Board of Elections Member Sam DeMarco told reporters on Wednesday.
“My job is to ensure that all legally cast votes are counted,” said DeMarco, the board’s lone Republican.
So far today, Joe Biden has picked up about 16,000 votes in Allegheny County. President Donald Trump has captured about 4,000 more.
DeMarco said he’s not worried about the threat of fraud as the count continues.
“I would find it hard to believe that somebody would want to risk their livelihood, or their pension by doing something or committing fraud,” DeMarco said. “So for the most part, I believe that this process down here is as secure as it can be.”
DeMarco accepted no blame for the delay in counting Allegheny County’s votes. Instead he criticized Gov. Tom Wolf for not reaching agreement with state lawmakers on a plan to start processing or counting mail ballots before Election Day.
"The whole thing about the process and it being drawn out, it’s all at the feet of Gov. Tom Wolf.
So far, Allegheny County has only received about 500 ballots postmarked by Election Day that arrived after 8 p.m. last night, but more may roll in this week. The state Supreme Court ruled that ballots received by Friday at 5 p.m. should be counted, but Republicans challenged that decision. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the case before Election Day but may still do so in the days ahead.
Biden wins Wisconsin, moves closer to Electoral College victory
The fate of the United States presidency hung in the balance Wednesday as Democratic challenger Joe Biden picked up a win in Wisconsin while fighting President Donald Trump in other battleground states that could prove crucial in determining who wins the White House.
Neither candidate cleared the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House, and the margins were tight in several other battleground states. Top advisers for both Biden and Trump on Wednesday morning expressed confidence that they respectively had the likelier path to victory in the outstanding states.
The AP called Wisconsin for Biden after election officials in the state said all outstanding ballots had been counted, save for a few hundred in one township and an expected small number of provisional ballots.
Trump’s campaign has requested a recount. Statewide recounts in Wisconsin have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes; Biden leads by 0.624 percentage point out of nearly 3.3 million ballots counted.
Republican candidate calls for Shapiro to recuse himself from legal challenges
The Republican candidate for Pennsylvania attorney general is calling for Josh Shapiro, the Democratic incumbent, to recuse himself from pending legal challenges to the counting of mail ballots.
Republican Heather Heidelbaugh said Tuesday afternoon that Shapiro should “appoint a trusted and impartial deputy to oversee any legal questions and disputes in which that office might play a role concerning this election.”
Shapiro is running for a second term and has defended the integrity of the state’s mail voting process. His office represents Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar in some legal challenges, including the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s appeal of the deadline to count mail ballots that is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said Wednesday that the office “assesses potential conflicts on all cases,” and noted that representing the Department of State in litigation is part of the attorney general’s job description under state law.
“The best way to settle this is to count, and to make sure that we have an accurate count, and that all legal, eligible, votes are part of that process,” Shapiro said in an interview on CNN Wednesday morning.
This summer as more retailers pulled the Confederate off shelves in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, business owners and historians struggled with flag’s role in Gettysburg. Many had stopped selling it, others doubled down.
In the dirt lot, the salesman was the traditional “Trump 2020” flag was the top seller.
If Trump lost his re-election bid and the stand saw a glut of merchandise, the salesman said it would be donated to “battered women.”
The ‘blue shift’ is already moving vote margins in the Philly suburbs from Trump to Biden
We’re starting to see what’s known as “the blue shift” in the Philadelphia suburbs.
On Tuesday night (and into early Wednesday morning), preliminary election results showed President Donald Trump performing better than you might have expected in areas like Chester County, which Hillary Clinton won by almost 10 percentage points in 2016.
State data initially showed Trump had almost 108,000 votes in Chester County, just ahead of Biden’s 106,000. But just 38% of some 146,000 mail ballots received by officials there had been counted.
Chester County updated the count Wednesday morning, and Biden had pulled ahead with about 130,000 votes, compared to Trump’s 113,000 — a 7 percentage point advantage for the former vice president.
Registered Democrats accounted for about 56% of Chester County’s mail ballot requests, double the GOP figure. And 16% of mail ballots were requested by voters unaffiliated with either party.
The number of mail ballots to count is expected to increase. Some ballots had been received but not yet scanned into the state’s database. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court also allowed mail ballots to be counted if they are returned to county elections offices by 5 p.m. on Friday, instead of the normal deadline of 8 p.m. on Election Day. Republicans are challenging that ruling before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Allegheny County counted a little over 15,000 ballots this morning. About 12,000 went to Biden.
Allegheny County Solicitor Andy Szefi said workers processing mail ballots at a warehouse on Pittsburgh’s north side counted roughly half of the 348,000 they received before exhausted workers who had been on the job for 22 hours straight took a break early this morning.
So far, 15,118 ballots have been counted since workers returned to the warehouse following the break.
LATEST COUNT. Among the roughly 15,000 ballots counted this morning in PA’s Allegheny County, about 12,000 are for Biden and about 3,000 are for Trump. Still well over 100,000 mail ballots to count. Officials hope to complete most of the count today @PhillyInquirer#Election2020
A majority of the outstanding ballots should be counted by the end of the day today, Szefi said, but he noted that it could take until Friday for a team of 250 workers to process and count or reject ballots with incomplete declarations, no dates, or missing secrecy envelopes. Those ballots are being segregated in what he called “resolution bins.”
Szefi conceded that the overnight break delayed the county’s work, but he said it was necessary to ensure that the workers counting ballots were well rested.
“I know it’s tough for people to wait and people are frustrated by the wait. I would ask that people be patient,” said Szefi, the county’s top attorney. “We knew going into this process that it wasn’t going to be done yesterday or today because of that extension, and that’s just where we are now. We’re just living in the reality that we knew was coming.”
Szefi said he wasn’t sure why votes were being counted in Pittsburgh more quickly than they’re being counted in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.
“We set up a rally good process. We dedicated a lot of personnel to it. We put a lot of time and energy into setting it up. I think that’s paying off,” Szefi said. “When you can’t start til 7 a.m. on Election Day, it’s tough to get it all done in one day, and I don’t think many people in many counties with any significant population have.”
The Postal Service didn’t lose 300,000 mail ballots, new court filing shows
After conducting sweeps of 220 postal facilities Tuesday, the U.S. Postal Service found only 13 delayed ballots nationwide — which were immediately expedited to their destination — a disparate outcome from the alarmist data from a court filing yesterday declaring 300,000 “missing ballots.”
The ballots were all found in Pennsylvania: Three in Johnstown and 10 in Lancaster, according to testimony filed Wednesday from Daniel Brubaker of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
A federal judge ordered Tuesday that the agency sweep all postal facilities by 4:30 p.m. after data showed that 300,000 pieces of election mail had been scanned into the postal service’s mail stream, but never scanned out. However, this could largely be because the “extraordinary measures” the agency is taking to deliver ballots this week includes bypassing the processing system and manually delivering ballots to boards of elections, the agency said. In short, the ballot is scanned into the system, then manually removed to be expeditiously delivered to elections officials, postal officials testified.
The agency said it wasn’t able to sweep all postal facilities by the judge’s 4:30 p.m. deadline due to their current employee schedule and sweep layout. Still, by the end of the day, the USPS had swept postal facilities across Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Colorado and Wyoming, Alabama, Houston, Northern New England, Greater South Carolina, South Florida, Lakeland and Arizona.
Outside of the 13 ballots discovered in Pennsylvania, all facilities reported “all clears,” which means no ballots were found.
“The most reliable way to tell that a facility is clear of ballots is the all clear process,” said Kevin Bray, 26-year USPS operations specialist, “rather than comparing entry and exit scans.”
Trump moves past his 2016 vote total in Pennsylvania, while Biden likely to surpass Hillary Clinton’s
Amid a surge in voter turnout across Pennsylvania, more votes were cast for Donald Trump this year than in 2016, and it also appears likely that Joe Biden received more votes than Hillary Clinton did that year.
Trump had received more than 3.03 million of the votes counted and included in unofficial results from the Associated Press midday Wednesday. That’s 64,000 more than the 2.97 million votes Trump won in 2016, and the number will continue to tick up as mail ballots are counted.
The results of those mail ballots — at noon, more than 1.29 million remained to be tallied, according to the Department of State — will almost certainly heavily favor Joe Biden, who had received more than 2.52 million of the votes counted so far. To exceed Hillary Clinton’s 2.93 million votes in 2016, Biden will need to receive 403,000 more votes.
That will very likely happen, considering Democrats used mail ballots much more heavily than Republicans did.
Of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, at least 38 exceeded the presidential vote from four years ago, according to the unofficial results, with that number likely to go up as mail ballots are tallied.
Enthusiasm was strong on both sides: In all 38 of those counties, Trump won more votes than he did in 2016, and Biden won more votes than Clinton did.
Philly’s USPS delivered more ballots than a court filing makes it seem
Data presented in a court filing by the U.S. Postal Service Wednesday morning paints a dire picture of Philadelphia’s on-time mail ballot return on Election Day. But this data lacks context, and is likely not an accurate representation of the speed at which mail ballots are being returned.
Last week, the USPS reported that the Philadelphia metropolitan area returned more than 94% of mail ballots to election officials within the one-to-three day window from Oct. 26 to 29, according to the Postal Service data filed in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.
The filing Wednesday morning shows that on Nov. 3, the Philadelphia metro’s on-time percentage dropped to about 67%.
But it’s likely that these stats seem worse than they actually are, given that mail ballots returned this week are bypassing the city’s processing center and are being manually sorted, postmarked, and immediately returned to Boards of Elections within the same day, according to postal officials. This means those ballots are likely scanned in, then never scanned out, since they are bypassing the rest of the system. The “local turnaround,” lawyers for the Postal Service said, “expedites delivery, but is not captured in service performance data.”
Additionally, given the extraordinary measures the Postal Service instituted this week to ensure the timely return of ballots, the stark drop-off from last week to Tuesday doesn’t add up. Employees in Philadelphia’s processing center said that Postal Inspectors are installed in the building and have been monitoring ballot returns daily for the past week.
The USPS sweeps each post office for ballots every morning, and then reports whether any ballots have been found to a task force. As of Friday, no ballots had been found during the morning sweeps, said Joe Rodgers, president of the National Association of Letter Carrier Keystone 157, who is overseeing the task force.
Some Pa. counties didn’t start counting mail ballots until today
In Cumberland County, workers started counting mail-in ballots at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The county was one of a handful in the state that decided not to pre-canvass these ballots until after Election Day, leaving total counts in flux.
Bethany Salzarulo, county elections director, said Wednesday morning she was unsure how long it would take to count the 52,940 mail ballots returned so far. A team of people are processing the ballots and are going for “accuracy, not speed.”
Lawyers squaring off over some Pennsylvania ballots
As Pennsylvania counties continue to count votes Wednesday, lawyers for Republicans and Democrats are squaring off in court over efforts by some counties to give voters an opportunity to correct deficiencies on their mail-in ballots.
The cases — filed by Republicans in both state and federal courts Tuesday — are shaping up as the GOP’s main legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s vote so far. But the possible impact remains an open question: Not all counties contacted voters about problems like missing signatures. And how many ballots were deficient, and ultimately corrected, is so far unknown.
In Montgomery County, election officials said that out of more than 1,000 ballots set aside for probable defects as of the weekend, 93 were later corrected.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage did not rule Wednesday on whether those ballots should be thrown out, but gave lawyers until Friday morning to file supplemental arguments.
A similar case was filed and tossed in Bucks County Tuesday, challenging mail-in votes that voters were permitted to later correct.
But those county-by-county fights could soon be heard on a statewide stage that could affect hundreds of ballots in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. In a separate case filed in Commonwealth Court arguing all corrected ballots across the state should be thrown out, lawyers were expected to host a scheduling call Wednesday afternoon to determine a possible hearing date.
And a larger looming question remained Wednesday: whether the U.S. Supreme Court would step in to block Pennsylvania from counting mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day that arrive by Friday.
That timetable was permitted by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, but challenged by Republicans. While the U.S. Supreme Court has twice failed to settle the issue — initially splitting 4-4, then declining to hear an expedited challenge last week — several conservative justices left open the possibility they would revisit the GOP challenge after the election.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew hanging on to lead against Amy Kennedy
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the former Democrat who switched parties and pledged “undying support” to President Trump, was hanging on to a 9,500 vote lead, 51% to 48%, over Democrat Amy Kennedy Wednesday morning with 75% of precincts in New Jersey’s 2d Congressional District.
Van Drew gave what amounted to a victory speech Tuesday night inside the Oar House Pub just over the bridge in Sea Isle City, while Kennedy said she would await the counting of all the ballots. Her campaign manager Josh Roesch said he believed she could still make up the difference with outstanding votes in Atlantic and Cumberland counties.
Van Drew called it a “hard and brutal year” and said a lot of “money and power” was used to try to remove him from his seat. But he had a final power move of his own: renewing an alliance with a controversial Democratic operative in Atlantic City, Craig Callaway, who did a party switch of his own and worked for Van Drew. Callaway was paid $110,000 and worked relentlessly, especially on Election Day, getting voters and ballots to the polls on Van Drew’s behalf.
Kennedy defeated Van Drew in Atlantic County, but her margin was thousands fewer than other Democrats on the ballot in Atlantic County, including candidates for Sheriff, U.S. Senate and Atlantic City Mayor.
In his speech, Van Drew thanked his loyal chief of staff Allison Murphy, one of the few staffers who did not leave him after he became a Republican. “The America that we do know is the America that we need to survive,” Van Drew said. “I want your children and your grandchildren and great grandchildren to know and to feel the greatness of this amazing nation.”
If Kennedy ultimately loses, there will be no members of the storied political dynasty in federal public office, after U.S. Rep Joe Kennedy lost his bid for a Senate seat earlier this year.
Donald Trump was up by fewer than 600,000 of the votes counted as of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday — with the results of at least 1.35 million more ballots to be counted and released.
The bulk of the remaining mail ballots come from the state’s largest counties, which are also heavily Democratic. And because Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to vote by mail all across the state, those votes will skew heavily in Biden’s favor. The result will be a continued blue shift.
Where that shift ends will determine the winner. Adding to the uncertainty this election is the unknown number of mail ballots that will continue arriving through 5 p.m. Friday, which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said could be counted. But it’s unknown whether those ballots will ultimately be added to the total, with Republicans challenging that extension in court.
Margatians will continue to head to Ventnor and Atlantic City for their Boardwalk needs after voters in the Jersey Shore town overwhelmingly rejected a ballot question calling for the town to study the feasibility of building its own boardwalk.
“I think the number one reason was people’s wallets,” said Margate resident Dan Gottlieb, who led the opposition to the project.
“There was a $25 million estimate before the pandemic to build the Boardwalk. Lumber prices have at least doubled in that time. The $25 million was wildly optimistic.”
Rebuilding a boardwalk in Margate, which had one before it was destroyed in the 1944 Hurricane, would have lengthened the existing pathway in adjacent Atlantic City and Ventnor by another mile and a half. But in the end, the desire of people of Margate to truly open their northern border with Ventnor was limited.
Gottlieb said Margate is likely to improve conditions on Atlantic Avenue for bicyclists by widening bike lanes and narrowing the road to one lane. And he suggested an easier fix to the “dead zone” between the new dunes and the bulkheads the Boardwalk would have covered up.
“Maybe the solution there is some recreational things like volleyball nets, or shufflboard courts,” he said.
He also questioned whether the Army Corps of Engineers or the state Department of Environmental Protection would have approved the project.
Gottlieb suggested the money would be better spent studying ways to mitigate the chronic nuisance flooding on the town’s bay side, rather than contemplating an expensive new amenity like a boardwalk. “If you had a leaky roof would you put a hot tub in your backyard or fix your leaky roof first?” he said.
Trump, Biden campaigns both say they expect to win Pennsylvania
Both the Trump and Biden campaigns expressed confidence their candidate will win Pennsylvania. Both also tried to portray themselves as the leaders, hoping not only to win the vote count, but to harden public perceptions in the event that the votes are challenged, as was seen in Florida in 2000.
“We expect to win Pennsylvania,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said. “We see 1.4 million outstanding ballots that will be counted over the coming days — most projected to be from Democrat-heavy areas and mail-in votes. We expect these ballots will more than overcome Trump’s 600,000 vote margin that he’s carrying right now.”
But the Trump campaign said they expect to hang onto their lead.
Even if they lose 95% of the outstanding mail ballots in Philadelphia, campaign manager Bill Stepien argued, Trump could still hang on
He pointed to outstanding mail ballots remaining in some strong Trump areas, like Luzerne and Westmoreland counties, where the president was winning around 30% of the mail ballots, a relatively strong number for him.
The votes being tabulated were cast on or before Election Day, but have not yet been counted. By state law, election officials were not able to begin counting mail ballots until the morning of Election Day.
The Trump campaign also strongly hinted that it may contest at least some of the mail ballots. Republicans have made several challenges to a state Supreme Court ruling allowing mail ballots to be counted if they arrive by 8 p.m. Friday and are postmarked by Election Day, or lack a clear postmark.
“We obviously are leading a full court press to make sure we have our legal teams that are in place,” said top Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller. “We want to make sure that all legally cast ballots are counted. We also want to make sure that illegally cast ballots are not counted.”
But the Biden campaign said it expects to win Pennsylvania by higher margins than Trump did in 2016.
O’Malley Dillon also fired back at Trump’s calls to halt vote counts.
“The American people get to pick their president,” she said. “Let’s be extremely clear about something if Donald Trump got his wish and we stopped counting ballots right now, Vice President Joe Biden would be the president of the United States.”
As Philadelphia city officials continue to process mail ballots, a handful of grassroots, anti-Trump organizations are planning protests in Center City this afternoon and evening, demanding every vote be counted.
Indivisible Philadelphia, the local chapter of the national progressive group, is planning a protest to take place this afternoon on Independence Mall. Matt Harker, a member of the group’s steering committee, said they’ve partnered with a number of other organizations, including labor unions, and expect at least hundreds of protesters to turn out to listen to speakers, then march to City Hall.
At 5 p.m., organizers with leftist political groups including Socialist Alternative, Sunrise Movement, and Reclaim Philadelphia will gather for a protest at City Hall, just a block from the Pennsylvania Convention Center where mail ballots are being counted. Organizers stressed they have no intention of interfering with that process.
Movement Alliance Project executive director Bryan Mercer said progressive groups in Philadelphia have been preparing for this scenario — an uncertain result that could hinge on Pennsylvania — for weeks.
“This isn’t the time to just stay in our seats,” he said. “This is the time to show every leader and person responsible that we’re gonna watch this process, and we’re gonna demand a full process, and demand every vote is counted.”
Eric Jenkins, a member of Socialist Alternative, said President Trump’s early-morning comments falsely declaring victory were “completely out of base and show he’s trying to steal the election.”
He also said the groups want to “push back” on Joe Biden’s plea for patience.
“Remember what happened in 2000. The Democrats wanted to be patient and Republicans mobilized,” said Jenkins, 25. “If we stand still, Trump can steal this election.”
150,000 outstanding ballots to count in Allegheny County
The people counting 150,000 outstanding mail ballots in Allegheny County resumed their work this morning around 10 a.m., Allegheny County Elections Division Manager David Voye told reporters this morning.
The count is taking place at a large former metalworks warehouse located on Pittsburgh’s north side.
On one side of the warehouse sits a sea of black totes containing ballots that have already been scanned. The space is being guarded by several armed county law enforcement officers. On the other side of the warehouse, the count is underway. A television monitor mounted to a cinderblock wall shows a live stream of the work in progress.
“As we count them, we want to give you some updates and let you know how the results have changed,” Voye said.
He explained that 29,000 ballots, or roughly 20 percent of the ballots left to count, have been segregated in accordance with guidance the county received from the secretary of state and will not be counted today. Those ballots may have incomplete declarations or could have other issues, like a missing bar code.
Pennsylvania still needs to count about 1.3 million mail ballots, Boockvar says
Roughly 1.3 million mail ballots remain to be counted in Pennsylvania out of about 2.6 million that were cast, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters during a press briefing Wednesday morning.
Considering the dramatic increase in mail ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic and fears of voter intimidation at the polls, Boockvar said the election “really could not have gone more smoothly,” but stressed that it will take time to count all the outstanding votes.
“There are still millions of ballots left to be counted,” Boockvar said, urging patience. “We are going to accurately count every single ballot.”
Tom Ridge and Ed Rendell, two former Pennsylvania governors from opposite sides of the state and political spectrum, were talking Wednesday morning about how the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles were trailing their opponents at halftime during Sunday’s games but came back in the second half to win their games.
They’d like President Donald Trump, who has called on the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the current counting of mail ballots in the state, to let this year’s election have a third and fourth quarter.
“Pennsylvanians understand the game’s not over until the clock strikes zero in the fourth quarter,” said Ridge, a Republican from Erie, in a call with reporters. “Well this game is not over.”
Rendell, a Democrat from Philadelphia, rejected Trump’s complaints about votes being tallied after Election Day."Somehow there’s a myth going around that counting votes after Election Day is somehow new, that we’re breaking new ground," Rendell said on the call. “That is not the case.”
Ridge, who also served as the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, accused Trump of trying to “disenfranchise” voters waiting for their ballots to be counted when he falsely declared victory in a speech at the White House early Wednesday. He noted that politicians on both ends of the political spectrum had criticized Trump for that.
“I think the repudiation and condemnation of his remarks speaks, even in an unfortunately divided and polarized world, to a certain level of consensus around the notion that there are millions of votes that have been properly cast and received before Nov. 3 and constitutionally they need and will be counted,” said Ridge, who is co-chair of VoteSafe, a bipartisan coalition pushing for voting rights during the coronavirus pandemic.
Over 200,000 mail ballots in Philly remain to be counted, city commissioners say
More than 200,000 mail in ballots in Philadelphia remain to be counted, city commissioners Lisa Deeley and Al Schmidt announced in a news conference Wednesday morning.
As of 4 a.m., 141,000 mail ballots in Philadelphia have been counted, out of the 353,000 that came into the city, according to the commissioners. Schmidt said it’s possible to count 10,000 ballots an hour, but that doesn’t account for shift changes and technical issues.
Deeley urged patience with the counting process, and said the city will report additional numbers “at some point today.”
“We’re doing the best we can to get that count done as soon as possible, and it’s going to be accurate,” Deeley said. “We’ll be done when we’re done.”
Biden takes narrow lead in Michigan as more Detroit area votes are tallied
Biden pulled into the lead in Michigan on Wednesday morning as votes continued to be tallied in the heavily Democratic Detroit area and elsewhere.
Early returns showed Trump with a sizable lead in the state, which he narrowly carried four years ago. But as of 6 a.m., Detroit had only counted about half of its ballots, and other large jurisdictions were also lagging in reporting their tallies.
As of 9:30 a.m., Biden held an advantage of about 12,000 votes — of nearly 5 million tallied.
“Election officials worked through the night to #CountEveryVote,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson tweeted Wednesday morning. “That work continues. Hundreds of thousands of ballots in our largest jurisdictions are still being counted, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Warren & Sterling Heights. Every vote will count.”
In 2016, Trump won Michigan by a margin of 0.2 percentage points, adding 16 electoral college votes to his total.
Philly official urges voters and reporters to be patient as they continue to count mail ballots
Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt said voters should remain patient as the city continues to count the more than 350,000 mail ballots it received during the election.
“We have hundreds of thousands mail-in ballots yet to count,” Schmidt said during an interview on CNN Wednesday morning.
Schmidt estimated that Philadelphia will end up with between 350,000 and 400,000 mail in ballots, and noted that ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 can still be counted, as long as they’re received by Friday.
"It’s interesting hearing reporters talk about, ‘Listen everybody, this is going to take some time.’ And then the polls close, and then it’s, ‘Why don’t you have the results yet?’ " Schmidt said. “Everyone needs to recalibrate they’re expectations.”
“Days and nights are beginning to blend together for all of us,” Schmidt added. “If everything keeps up, we’ll have the total results in the next couple of days.”
The Philadelphia court system is planning to set up a filing desk this morning at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where lawyers will be able to appeal city election board rulings on issues that include whether or not to count certain mail-in ballots, according to a court official.
Those appeals will be heard by Philadelphia Common Pleas judges, but it remains unclear when the hearings will be scheduled, because the ballots are still being counted.
For logistical reasons, the court official said, the hearings will be held at Philadelphia Traffic Court — but by Common Pleas judges.
Where the presidential election stands Wednesday morning
President Donald Trump is leading former vice president Joe Biden in votes counted so far in Pennsylvania, but that’s at least partly because in-person votes, which were disproportionately cast by Republicans, were tallied faster than mail ballots.
Democrats voted by mail in much greater numbers than Republicans. Those votes take longer to count, and the slow process of tallying them is expected to shift the margins considerably in Biden’s favor — a phenomenon know as “the blue shift.”
The question is whether Biden will surpass Trump. As of 6:30 a.m., Trump has 2,843,212 votes in Pennsylvania compared to Biden’s 2,186,202, a lead of about 657,000 votes - with many mail-in ballots to count in Philadelphia, its four suburban collar counties — Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery — and Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh.
Other key states, such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, were also too close to call.
Addressing supporters in Wilmington who greeted him from parked cars with a chorus of enthusiastic honks late Tuesday night, Biden declared: “We’re gonna win Pennsylvania.”
“We feel good about where we are now. We really do,” he said. “We believe we’re on track to win this election.”
With the race in Pennsylvania and other key states still unsettled, Trump stood before a room full of supporters in the White House around 2:20 a.m. and falsely claimed that he had won the election.
“This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said, to cheers and applause. “We were getting ready to win this election; frankly, we did win this election.”
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.
Despite President Donald Trump’s warning that Pennsylvania’s election would be marred by “rampant and unchecked cheating,” requiring his lawyers to swiftly descend on the state, Republican lawyers brought no legal challenge raising broad questions about voting in the state by the time polls closed Tuesday.
But even amid that relative calm on Election Day, lawyers on both sides were anxiously eyeing signs that more serious legal battles could be on the horizon — particularly over how and whether certain mail ballots should be counted.
On Tuesday, GOP lawyers filed suit in state and federal courts contesting efforts by some Pennsylvania counties to allow voters an opportunity to correct mistakes in their mail ballots, such as missing signatures.
“I’m proud of how Pennsylvanians conducted themselves in this historic election during a global pandemic,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement Tuesday night. The Department of State, responsible for overseeing the election, said the most common issues were polling places that opened late, long lines to vote, and confusion among voters who showed up in person after asking for a mail ballot — all typical Election Day complaints.
If you’re looking to catch up on the results from Election Day, there’s a lot we still don’t know. The presidency hasn’t been decided, as critical swing states including Pennsylvania, remain uncalled. Here’s a quick look at the results that did come in Tuesday and overnight:
Incumbent Democratic representatives to Congress across the Philadelphia area won reelection: Brendan Boyle in Pennsylvania’s Second District, Dwight Evans in Pennsylvania’s Third District, Madeleine Dean in Pennsylvania’s Fourth District, Mary Gay Scanlon in Pennsylvania’s Fifth District, Donald Norcross in New Jersey’s First District, and Andy Kim in New Jersey’s Third District.