Vote counting continues in four critical states as of early Thursday morning — Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.
Pennsylvania and Georgia are stories unto themselves. There are reports that both have evaded any efforts at transparency in what they are doing behind closed doors, and little or no reporting about why it is they have not been able to accomplish completing their vote counting nearly in one or two urban cities when the vote-counting in nearly the entirety of the remainder of the stated has been finished for some time. I’ll try to address each one separately on Thursday as more information becomes available. For now, I want to focus on the status of counting in Arizona and Nevada.
As has been widely reported following Arizona having been “called” for Joe Biden relatively early in the evening on Tuesday, the crazy uncertainty that has been interjected into national elections by the head-long rush to use mail-in voting around the country has made it next to impossible to explain or predict the path the final vote tally might take without a significant amount of input from local election officials about what it is they are doing, and what remains to be done.
Different news outlets seemed to have different information about the manner in which Arizona was counting votes. As seems to have been the case, Arizona first announced absentee and mail-in ballots that had arrived before Monday in the earliest vote totals. As was true pretty much everywhere, those earlier votes received by mail tended to favor Biden in large numbers. Next Arizona released the “early” in-person voting totals, which again tended to favor Biden, and his lead in Arizona got bigger. Next Arizona released election day in-person voting totals, which were expected to favor Pres. Trump, but the first counties to report included Pima County which Biden won with 60% of the vote. But Maricopa County, with by far the largest population of any county in Arizona, and a county Pres. Trump carried by a narrow margin in 2016, still had a sizeable number of votes outstanding.
But what threw off the media prognosticators was that the vote reported out of in Maricopa County showed Biden with an 8% lead — compared to Trump having carried the county by 2% in 2016. Believing this signaled a big swing in the County from 2016 to 2020, Arizona was called for Biden.
The problem stemmed from the fact that Biden’s 8% lead was all based on the mail-in and early voting, which was always known to favor Biden. Trump’s numbers would come from in-person election day voting, and Maricopa was among the last of the Arizona counties to report those numbers. Trump dramatically narrowed the gap overnight on Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, but it looked like there simply weren’t enough votes remaining t to pull out the state. That is until Maricopa County announced it still had nearly 500,000 votes to count,
On Wednesday afternoon, AZCentral put together this great story explaining where the Arizona vote stood, and what was taking so much extra time.
According to the story, at least 600,000 ballots remained to be counted in Arizona as of 11 a.m. Wednesday. The number of mail-in ballots dropped off on Election Day totaled between 160,000 and 180,000. That along with additional information from the state’s rural counties pushed the number of ballots left to count above 600,000.
About 450,000 of the state’s uncounted ballots are in Maricopa County, where the total of uncounted ballots now stands at 248,000 early ballots that arrived on Monday and Tuesday, and 160,000 to 180,000 early ballots that were dropped off on Election Day.
After polls close on Election Day, county election departments around the state first release their tally of early ballots, which have been counted before Election Day. This usually occurs at 8 p.m. In Maricopa County, these early ballots included only those processed by Sunday.
After the early ballots vote totals, county officials count ballots cast at the polls on Election Day. This number is often reported as the number of precincts reported. However, even when 100% of precincts have reported, there are still hundreds of thousands of votes to be tallied, including the “late” early votes — those that arrive after the county stops processing early ballots or those that are dropped off on Election Day. In Maricopa County, ballots that arrived in the mail on Monday and Tuesday, along with those dropped at the polls, are in this group. In previous elections, after Election Day, there have been more than 600,000 outstanding “late” early votes and provisional votes left to count.
Arizona election officials announced vote tallies throughout the day and into the night on Wednesday and closed the gap to approximately 67,000 votes. Some analysts say the math favors Trump and he should be able to erase the lead when all ballots are counted.
With the latest data dump coming out of Maricopa County, President Trump won that batch +18%, cutting nearly 11,000 votes off of Joe Biden’s lead
President @realDonaldTrump is on a pace to take over the race lead in Arizona
— Sam (@SunshineSt8Sam) November 5, 2020
As for Nevada, the news there is rather stark. Analysts looking at the way Biden’s lead dramatically declined throughout the night on Tuesday were stumped because Biden seemed to have reached the vote totals in Las Vegan and Reno that were thought to be needed to give him a safe margin of victory. With his lead down to 7000 votes, the Secretary of State issued information that there were approximately 70,000 votes left to count. Given the slide in Biden’s lead, the supporters of Pres. Trump assumed those additional votes would supply what was needed to potentially erase the rest of Biden’s lead. But it looks like the remaining 70,000 votes are mail-in ballots from Clark County.
From NV SOS:
What ballots have been counted so far?
All in-person early votes, all in-person Election Day votes, and MOST of the mail ballots received before Election Day have been counted.
— Dr. John R. Samuelsen (@JohnRSamuelsen) November 5, 2020
Those ballots have been coming into the Secretary of State every day for the past two weeks, and every day saw Biden outperform Trump among those mailed-in ballots. The Culinary Workers Union has a huge vote-by-mail campaign for its members, and those votes arrived consistently during the mail-in ballot period. Since the 70,000 remaining ballots are part of that same effort, there is little reason to hope that Pres. Trump will outperform Biden in those ballots once they are included on Thursday.
If Trump wins Arizona and holds on to Georgia, the race will come down to Pennsylvania. As the vote remaining outstanding vote in Philly dwindled late on Wednesday and into the early morning hours of Wednesday, it continues to look like there won’t be enough votes to overcome Pres. Trump’s lead.
Thursday should bring news.