The mantra in the nation this week has been “Keep Calm and Carry On” – counting votes that is.
But it could still take another week or more until all valid ballots are processed and tallied from the 2020 election.
We support efforts to ensure a fair and accurate vote count. At this point, we need to let the system, or in this case election systems across this great country work how they were intended.
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to local election laws in the United States. Different states have different rules.
U.S. election laws date back to Article 1 of the Constitution. This gave states the responsibility of overseeing federal elections. Many Constitutional amendments and federal laws to protect voting rights have been passed since then. And the rules of elections are always changing.
Here is a breakdown of specific rules concerning absentee/mail-in counting of ballots. In 17 states, statutes or 2020-specific rules allow for absentee/mail-in counting to begin before Election Day. Those include Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.
In 16 states, statutes or 2020-specific rules allow for absentee/mail-in counting to begin on Election Day before polls close. Those include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin Wyoming and Vermont.
In 17 states, including South Dakota, statutes or 2020-specific rules say absentee/mail-in ballots cannot be counted until after polls close on Election Day. Others in that category include Alaska, California, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Main, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Washington.
We are a society with little patience. We want a quick fix, but in this instance we must trust the system, be patient and count every vote.
Former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele and former interim Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile, co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Election Legitimacy Initiative, may have said it best.
“Elections in the United States are administered at the state and local level, and we must let those processes play out. That includes allowing ballots postmarked by Election Day and received in accordance with state law to be counted. We are confident that election officials will continue to carry out the vote counting process with integrity,” they said.
We wholeheartedly agree.
— Pioneer editorial board
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