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Pennsylvania secretary of state admits 'overwhelming majority' of ballots will take 'days' to count


The Keystone State is expected to be the most important battleground in the election

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said on Sunday that the "overwhelming majority" of the state's ballots will be counted — but not until several days after Election Day.

The presumed delay makes it increasingly likely that Americans won't know who has won the presidency until days after Tuesday, November 3, as election forecasters project the Keystone State to be the pivotal battleground on which the election will hinge.

What are the details?

Boockvar told NBC's "Meet the Press" that she expects in total there will be 10 times as many mail-in ballots in the state this year as there were in 2016. And in several counties, against her wishes, officials have said they won't start counting those ballots until Wednesday morning.

"So yes, it will take longer," she acknowledged. "I expect the overwhelming majority of ballots in Pennsylvania, that's mail-in absentee ballots as well as in-person ballots, will be counted within a matter of days."

She added that counties plan to have people counting "24/7 until it's done."

Though Boockvar seems to have intended the statement to be reassuring by granting that it will take days rather than weeks until results from the state are announced, the news is sure to garner a negative response from those who suggest delays in counting votes will open the election to possible fraud or general chaos.

The Democratic secretary of state also tried to reassure viewers by saying the delay is not a big deal because "elections have never been called on election night." She noted that service members overseas have until a week after election day to cast ballots in some states.

The problem is, as the New York Times notes, "Americans are accustomed to knowing who won on election night because news organizations project winners based on partial counts, not because the counting is actually completed that quickly."

So in this case, unlike in the past, a much larger portion of the total vote will probably be uncounted on election night, and therefore a projection of who won the state will, in all likelihood, not be made.

Anything else?

The delay on counting absentee ballots already submitted is further exacerbated by the state's decision — permitted by the Supreme Court — to extend the deadline for counting ballots received up to three days after November 3.

As of Monday, most polls show Democratic nominee Joe Biden ahead in Pennsylvania, but President Trump has been narrowing the gap in the lead-up to Election Day.

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