The US and the rest of the world are experiencing an almost unprecedented nervous war. Long after the last polling stations closed, there is still no winner. Why is that? An overview.
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The 2020 US presidential election has turned into a thriller with unpredictable results. The opponents, incumbent Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden, are almost aligned in key countries. There is currently no projection for six particularly hotly contested states as to who can secure the electorate there. This is unusual, as the outcome was usually clear at this point, even though the elections were limited. Why is it different this time?
The main difference in the voting in 2020 is the huge number of voters per post. In the face of the Corona crisis, many Americans sent their ballots by mail for fear of contamination in the election office. In the 2016 presidential election, about 33 million people voted this way, which is equivalent to about one in four votes cast. This year it will be more than two-thirds of that. The surveys were based on more than 100 million voters per mail, more than three times as many as in 2016. A total of 140 million people voted this time.
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What makes voting by mail so expensive
So what’s the problem when there are so many post voters? The problem is that counting these votes is extremely time consuming. This is partly because signatures have to be compared to electoral rolls. In some other states, the votes received a few days after the election are also counted. This is where the postmark counts, which must be no later than election day.
For example, in Nevada, postmarked November 3 votes are still valid if received on November 10. This is next Tuesday. The polling commissioner of Clark County, the state’s most populous district, announced on Thursday that the count would not be finalized until next Thursday.
In Key Pennsylvania, postal votes are accepted up to three days after election day. This does not mean that a winner cannot be declared in advance in the state should one of the candidates stand out decisively. But it may take a while. The election officials of several Midwestern states had announced such a scenario ahead of the election. In addition, in some states in the US, postal voting cannot begin until election day, which also causes delays.
Trump’s agitation against postal voting
Many states have greatly expanded postal voting options because of Corona. In some cases, judges also allowed deadlines to be extended. The result is now a scenario the incumbent Trump had been planning for months. Time and again, he raised the vote against vote by letter, claiming that it was extremely susceptible to electoral fraud. So it happened that on election day, Trump supporters in particular flocked to the polling stations, while the Biden supporters had long since voted by mail in large numbers.
Because Election Day votes counted much faster than postal ballots, Trump was initially clearly ahead in many states. It was foreseeable that the mood would change later. But Trump took this as evidence that postal voting was fraudulent to his disadvantage. He has so far provided no evidence for these allegations.
Voting by post is not susceptible to fraud
Authorities and experts also strongly disagree: fraud in postal voting is extremely rare. Trump-appointed FBI chief Chris Wray made it clear to Congress in September that there has never been a large-scale national electoral fraud in US history. There are always mistakes. Electoral authorities in the states of Ohio and New York sent tens of thousands of incorrect ballots. But that is not electoral fraud.
Now a legal nightmare is looming. Republicans have already filed a wave of lawsuits against the count in several states. Further petitions, as well as counterclaims from the Democrats are likely to follow. The results of the election could eventually end up in the Supreme Court, which decided the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore twenty years ago. Since the appointment of Constitutional Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Conservative Supreme Court justices have had a clear six to three majority – a strategic advantage for Trump.