The Newly Announced 100,000 'Provisional' Ballots yet to Be Counted in Pennsylvania Put That State Back up for Grabs

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

As pointed out here not long ago at RedState, it was announced earlier today that there are maybe as many as 200,000 ballots remaining to be counted across all of Pennsylvania – another 100,000 ballots that were “mailed-in”, and another 100,000 ballots that are “provisional” ballots.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Virtually all of Pennsylvania’s mail and absentee ballots have been counted, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State said Friday, but the process of tallying as many as 100,000 provisional ballots has just begun.

These provisional ballots are very different from the “mail-in” ballots which were such a source of controversy as massive numbers were counted over the past 3 days in Pennsylvania’s highly populated counties in and around Philadelphia.  Knowing that those counties are overwhelmingly Democrat by voter registration, it was inevitable that given the huge number of mail-in ballots requested and returned in Pennsylvania this year, the counting of those ballots in the heavy Democrat counties of Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, and Philadelphia would substantially erode the in-person vote totals that had given Pres. Trump a significant lead as of the end of the day on Tuesday.

With nearly all those mail-in ballots now having been counted — supposedly — and included in the statewide vote total, Joe Biden has taken the lead in Pennsylvania by 15,000 votes.

“Provisional” ballots are cast when a voter’s eligibility to vote in-person is in question.  For example, if a voter requested a mail-in ballot but did not receive one, or lost a ballot or the envelope it needed to be enclosed in to be counted, the person could go to their normal precinct polling location and request to vote a provisional ballot on Election Day.

In addition, voters who tracked their mail-in votes online, and discovered that their ballot was rejected because of a technical defect, could go to the polls and cast a provisional ballot.

Before county workers can count provisional ballots as valid votes, they have to investigate each one to ensure the person submitting it is a registered voter and eligible to vote, and didn’t vote already. That information then has to be documented in a state web portal that allows the voter to see if their vote was counted. The process must be completed within seven days of an election.  But the process can be time-consuming

“It took our county a day and a half to do a little over 8,000 mail ballots in June,” Jeff Greenburg, regional director at the National Vote at Home Institute and a former Mercer County elections director, said, “It took us two and a half days to do 650 provisionals, because of the labor intensive work that’s required.”

Where a substantial number of mail-in ballots were requested, received, and voted – such as in the populous counties around Philadelphia — the likelihood that there may be a substantial number of “provisional” ballots is reduced – the “mail-in” ballot has already been accepted.

So the “provisional” ballots are more likely to come from areas that had a lower return rate of “mail-in” ballots, or where there were known problems with the delivery of “mail-in” ballots ahead of the election.

According to SpotlightPA:

As of Friday morning, 56 of the state’s 67 counties reported about 85,000 provisional ballots cast based on only a partial count, a Pennsylvania Department of State spokesperson said. House Speaker Bryan Cutler told reporters Friday he’s told the number could top 100,000.

The fact that the 100,000 provisional ballots are spread out across the state creates a significant possibility they could break in favor of Pres. Trump.  There are dozens of Pennsylvania counties where his margin of victory over Joe Biden exceeded 40%.  If most of the “provisional” ballots are scattered among all the counties across the state, and there is no concentration of a significant number of ballots in the 5-6 counties where Biden had a substantial margin of victory, the 15,000 vote deficit that now exists could be easily overcome.  If 100,000 is a close approximation, he would need them to break in the range of 58-42 to have a solid chance of overcoming the deficit.

In addition to the “provisional ballots”, the press reports mention that there may be as many as another 100,000 “mail-in” ballots remaining to be counted.  These are likely ballots received by elections officials after the 8:00 pm Tuesday deadline that is set forth in the Pennsylvania statute, but which was extended for three days by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in its controversial decision prior to the election – a decision now subject to an appeal in the Supreme Court.  Prior to the election, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State agreed to segregate such late-arriving “mail-in” ballots until after the Supreme Court has had a chance to consider whether it would hear the challenge to what the Pennsylvania Court had done.  Now that the counting of timely received “mail-in” ballots has been completed, the counties will turn to counting the “untimely” mailed-in ballots.

With only a 15,000 vote margin to overcome and the unpredictability of how the provisional and untimely mailed-in ballots will end up breaking, the contest in Pennsylvania appears to be far from settled.