While mail-in voting was one of the hot topics in the debate Tuesday night, a federal appeals court in Wisconsin upheld a plan on Tuesday to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots in the Badger State by six days.
It's a victory for Democrats and could mean the winner in Wisconsin won't be known for days after the polls close.
And in other election news, a federal judge ruled that an Indiana law wrongly throws out mail-in ballots that don't arrive at county election offices by noon on Election Day. Tuesday's decision orders state election officials to count mail-in ballots if they're postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by voting offices no later than Nov. 13.
The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by Common Cause and the NAACP, which argues that thousands of people voting by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic risk having their ballots not counted because of slow mail delivery and other factors outside their control.
An expected surge in mailed-in ballots could mean that Americans will not know who won the presidential election on election night.
"We have to prepare for the very strong probability that an election unlike any other we've ever had might take a little longer to accurately count with integrity," David Becker, executive director and founder of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research, told the Wall Street Journal. "More time being taken to report results is not an indication of a problem."
Since an extraordinary number of Americans are expected to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will take more time to count ballots than those ballots cast in-person. It takes time for mailed-in ballots to arrive at the local election office, for officials to inspect the ballots and make sure they're authentic before they are allowed to be counted. In a close election, it could theoretically take days and even weeks to determine the winner.
If the results are delayed, it wouldn't be the first time Americans had to wait to know who the winner is in a presidential election. Back in 2000, a recount dispute in Florida took more than a month to solve. A potentially close race this time around could take even longer due to what various state laws require.
There's also a deadline of when the states must finish their counting of ballots. The Atlantic reports states must follow the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which is still the law. It requires electors to be chosen for the Electoral College, the constitutionally established body that elects the president, no more than 41 days after Election Day. This year, that date is December 14.
According to the act, whoever is ahead in the vote count on Dec. 14 gets the electors and the presidency.
This all does not mean media outlets across the country will not call a winner. Still, in a close contest, news organizations might hold off calling a race until the vote count is complete, which could lead to a roller coaster ride for the candidates and Americans watching the results.
And it's happened before. In 2018, in the Arizona race for a US Senate seat, Republican Martha McSally was narrowly winning the initial tally of in-person votes and mail ballots that had arrived days before Election Day. More than a week later, after election officials were able to count all of the mail votes that arrived on Election Day, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema won the senatorial race by more than 2 percentage points, according to Aljazeera. Arizona has since changed its methods in order to speed up the vote count and provide a timely tally.
A more recent example is the primary results in New York. The Empire State did not certify the results from its late June primary until late August, according to The Atlantic. Tens of thousands of votes were delayed by Post Office problems and tens of thousands more were disqualified for other reasons.
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Meanwhile, we may already be seeing some impact from Tuesday night's debate. President Trump may have earned a few votes from a majority of Spanish speakers who say the President won that debate. That's according to a Telemundo poll released during post-debate coverage on the channel.
It shows 66 percent of the network's Spanish-speaking audience thought Trump was the victor in Tuesday night's debate. And only 34 percent chose Biden as the winner.
As CBN News reported, when it comes to Hispanic voters, the Biden campaign is struggling, and with the margins tightening, many think this voting bloc has the potential to make the difference, especially in key battleground states like Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida.
Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), says Latinos need candidates who excite them, and right now, Biden is failing to do that.
"You can't just be against Trump. You have to be for something and I think Biden's lacking that inspirational message to get Latino voters out," he told CBN News.