‘The eyes of the world are on Pennsylvania’ as ballots are counted

Written by on November 5, 2020

‘The eyes of the world are on Pennsylvania’ as ballots are counted

By Barbara Sprunt/ NPR

November 4, 2020

Please be patient: We most likely won’t know the results of the Nov. 3 election in Pa. and across the country for several days. Find out more about how WLVR News will cover election night and after.

Lehigh County’s top elections official, Tim Benyo, estimates two-thirds of mail-in votes may be counted by this evening. He and some other workers haven’t slept yet and that a small crew opened thousands of ballots last night. He’s unsure at the moment if they will pull another all-nighter. Photo| Tyler Pratt / WLVR

Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes remain among the states front and center in the minds of both the Trump and Biden campaigns as ballots there continue to be counted.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters Wednesday evening that election workers have made excellent progress and that she expects hundreds of thousands of more ballots to be counted Wednesday night.

“At this point, I think we’re actually a little bit ahead of where I thought it would be, which is great,” she said, noting that it’s still a “matter of days” before the overwhelming majority of ballots will be counted.

“The eyes of the world are on Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Wolf added.

He reiterated that it’s not surprising that returns in Pennsylvania are taking longer than in other states.

“That’s actually a good sign,” he said. “And part of the reason for that is because so many more people have voted, and it does mean that votes in Pennsylvania are actually being counted.”

Pennsylvania, like many states, had surges in ballots cast by mail this year, in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike in other states, Pennsylvania’s election workers are barred from processing ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day, which doesn’t give them any kind of head start in the counting process.

Wolf acknowledged the Trump campaign’s press conference in Philadelphia earlier Wednesday afternoon, in which Rudy Giuliani alleged, without proof, rampant election fraud in the city.

The Trump campaign has said it will take legal action in Pennsylvania, including suing to stop counting the vote over allegations that Republican canvassing monitors weren’t able to watch the vote count closely enough.

Wolf called the lawsuit “simply wrong.”

“It goes against the most basic principles of our democracy. It takes away the right of every American citizen to cast their vote and to choose our leaders,” he said, adding, “We need to make sure that the voters are choosing the leaders, not the other way around.”

Wolf said Giuliani’s claims that there isn’t enough transparency in the Pennsylvania election system are baseless.

Boockvar also rebuked Giuliani’s allegations that over 100,000 ballots could appear and be counted while being illegitimate.

“You couldn’t find a box of ballots somewhere,” she said, adding that in Pennsylvania, ballots aren’t automatically sent to all eligible voters. Voters must apply for them and election officials must verify that all applicants are qualified voters.

“[It’s] all public record,” she said. “If you found a box of ballots in a room, they would have to match up with a list of people who actually were qualified voters who got approved, so it literally could not happen in Pennsylvania.”

Legal experts are doubtful that the rush of lawsuits, including the new ones in Michigan and Pennsylvania, will end up swinging the race.

For lawsuits to affect the outcome, said Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, they would need to affect more ballots in swing states than the margin between the two candidates. He called the scenario “increasingly unlikely.”

“Before [the election], I thought voters would decide this election, not the courts,” Levitt said. “And with every passing day, I think that’s more true.“

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