While Election Day gets all the buzz, the election process actually comes down to a lot more than one day. Presidential winners aren’t typically called or decided due to every vote having been counted; the winners are essentially determined when news organizations feel they have enough information to project a winner.
When looking at the actual counting of ballots, different states have different processes and deadlines for having all votes counted and certified. New York has a deadline of Dec. 7 to have their votes certified, while Delaware’s deadline is Nov. 5, just two days after the election.
This year, vote counting may take longer than past elections due to the large number of mail-in ballots in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Federal Election’s Commission Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, in an interview with CNN’s “New Day,” said “There are some states where they don’t even start processing the mail-in ballots until today. So, of course, they’re not going to know by end of the day today what was in all of those ballots.”
Early voting has been very popular this year, whether through mail or in-person, with almost 100 million people having already voted.
“We’ve seen enormous enthusiasm so far, with 97 million early votes,” said Weintraub. “That’s an astronomical number of people who have already turned out and voted. We want to have a really strong and vibrant democracy where every citizen’s voice and vote matters.”
Once all votes have been counted and certified, the electors of the Electoral College will convene on Dec. 14 in their respective states to cast one ballot for president and one ballot for vice president. Those results will then make their way to Washington D.C. where the Senate and House of Representatives will meet for a joint session in the House chamber to officially count the electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, a little over two months after election day.