Early, absentee votes play large role in vote counting delay

Posted at 5:14 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 19:26:50-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Election results from some states are still being decided the day after the election including Tennessee and Kentucky, in which there are still several races up for grabs.

Experts are reminding the public that initial results were projections that rely heavily on historical data and some of the votes counted on Election Day. Ultimately, all of these votes will still have to be counted.

Tennessee and Kentucky are not known for being swing states; so before the polls were even officially closed last night, President Donald Trump was announced as the projected winner in both states - a very early call compared to battleground states like Pennsylvania, that may not have a projected winner until Friday.

Linda Schacht Director of Lipscomb University Institute for Civic Leadership says the biggest reason for this delay is the unprecedented number of early and absentee votes and how states choose to count them.

”We just have to be patient and recognize that we’ve never had an election in this country where every ballot was counted in every state on election night. We’ve been used to getting projections of who was going to win on election night, but we have states that are too close to call," said Schacht.

Sixteen states including both Tennessee and Pennsylvania began counting count their early and absentee ballots on election day - something that some states couldn't do. Of those 16, as many as five were considered battleground states. That means some of the most critical states in this election had to wait longer to process their votes.

That wasn’t really the case in Tennessee and Schacht says this the unfortunate reality where historical data and early voting tallies are used to predict winners.

In Clarksville Tuesday night, we saw long lines where people had barely made it in time, only to hear that winners were being announced.

The hour and a half wait from start to finish was a little challenging for some, but some told us it compared little to the idea of feeling like you couldn’t make a difference.

Schacht says it makes her think back to 1980 when then president Jimmy Carter gave his concession speech, congratulating president-elect Ronald Reagan.

She says at that time, voters in the west coast began leaving the polls and to this day she believes it may have cost Democrats some senate seats.

It’s one reason why she urges people to not be discouraged when they hear projected winners. Not only is your vote important for the popular vote tally, “it also is important to stay in line to vote for those down-ballot races in many ways are going to affect you more than the presidency and that wasn’t called early,” Schacht said.

Say there’s a need for a recount, you will also be included in the final total. If nothing else, you can say you were part of the largest voter turnout in American history in almost 100 years.