JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As millions more Americans are expected to vote by mail this November and many states allowing those votes to be counted beyond Election Day, unless the presidential race is a blowout there’s a strong chance we may not know who whether Donald Trump and Joe Biden won for a few days.
In Georgia, a federal judge ruled this week that ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 could be counted as long as are received within three days.
North Carolina, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Washington State, West Virginia and the District of Columbia have laws that allow votes postmarked by Election Day to be counted.
In Alaska, ballots can be counted up to 10 days later. In California, a ballot postmarked by Nov. 3 will be counted up to 17 days later.
“This is unprecedented -- the number of absentee by mail requests that we have received,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
The various sets of rules could add even more confusion to what could be a chaotic election cycle.
While Florida supervisors of elections must send out ballots to those who have requested them by Sept. 24 and, at least under the law as it stands today, must be received by 7 p.m. Election Day to be counted. Those who have not requested ballots by that date can pick one up at your county elections office. They can also be returned there rather than putting the ballot in the mail.
Voting is already underway in some states and people are urged to return ballots early to avoid overwhelming elections offices in the final days.
“Do it early. Don’t wait until the last weekend to mail it back,” Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Elections Director Michael Dickerson said.
North Carolina voter Ann Maher plans to do just that.
“I want to make sure it doesn’t get lost,” Maher said. “I’ve had so much concern over the postage system and so forth. I don’t want to take any chances. This election is very important and it’s essential. I may just have one vote, but want my vote to count.”
Other important election dates to know
|Vote-by-mail ballots mailed out||Sept. 24||Sept. 15|
|Deadline to register to vote, change party, address||Oct. 5||Oct. 5|
|Early voting begins||Week of Oct. 19||Oct. 12|
|Deadline for mailed votes to be counted||Nov. 3||Nov. 6|