Congress Could Postpone the Electoral College To Prevent Election Chaos
It doesn’t sound like Spencer Cox is planning a victory party for November 3.
“I told my people, ‘We are not going to know who won this on election night,'” Cox, Utah’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, told The Atlantic‘s McCay Coppins.
Think about that for a second. Utah hasn’t elected a Democrat to be governor since 1984, and it has been voted Republican in every presidential election since 1964. If Cox thinks he might be waiting a long time for his race to be called this year, just imagine what that means for anyone waiting for the results of a more competitive election in a state with a lot more voters.
In Utah, those long waits have become the norm. It’s one of only a handful of states to rely primarily on mail-in voting—and while the system is safe and effective, it does take a bit longer to tally the results. When Cox won the state’s Republican gubernatorial primary earlier this year, for example, it took until the Monday after Election Day for the race to be called.
“That’s very common,” he says. “It’s just a paradigm shift that people have had to get used to.”
The rest of the country doesn’t have much time to get up to speed.
Thanks to both historical trends and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are going to vote by mail this year than ever before. Political campaigns and media coverage have focused on how increased mail-in balloting will affect the run-up to Election Day, but the real challenge may come after November 3 has passed. Mailed ballots take longer to process than those cast in person—to prevent fraud, each ballot must be individually checked and recorded by election officials. Even with computers, that’s a time-consuming process. A large number of ballots will certainly remain uncounted when Election Day comes to a close.
“The problem is logistical,” says Yuval Levin, director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He notes that some states took weeks to finish counting absentee and mailed-in ballots during this year’s pr
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