WESTON, Mass. – Election experts, including a secretary of state, recently spoke with Massachusetts-based Voter Protection Corps about how election night can go smoothly.
During a Zoom panel, they said most people should have an easy experience voting, whether in person or by mail. But Election Night is likely to be more like election week – at least.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson explained her state can’t open ballots, including absentee, until the morning of Election Day. Benson said it’ll be impossible to have Election Night results from Michigan.
“Basic math is estimating that it’s gonna take 80 hours to count and tabulate 3.2 million ballots based on the number of machines and people we’ve got,” said Benson.
The vote-counting policies vary widely by state. In Massachusetts, election officials can pre-process mail and absentee ballots as soon as they arrive.
Benson cautioned the media to wait until the grand majority of votes are counted before calling races.
Loyola University constitutional law scholar and Professor Justin Levitt said he thinks most election results will be clear within a week after November 3. Levitt warned that many people will file lawsuits on Election Night, and afterwards.
“A lawsuit without a provable set of facts showing a violation of statute or constitutional law is a tweet with a filing fee,” said Levitt. “And we should be paying exactly as much attention to those lawsuits as we do to Twitter.”
Levitt – a former deputy assistant attorney general with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division – added that individual mistakes are expected with mail-in ballots, as there are every year. But he said there is no reason to think there will be wide-scale misconduct with vote-by-mail or the elections.
Early voting in Massachusetts starts on Saturday. If you still need to register to vote, the deadline is October 24.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Laura is a national producer for Public News Service. Before that, she was the news director at WRFI in Ithaca, NY, and prior to that worked as a print journalist in Israel. She has covered basically everything: technology, local government, health, social issues, peace and justice, cultural topics, etc. Her pieces have been published in the Atlantic, Business Insider, NPR News, NPR member station WSKG, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Next Web, the Jerusalem Post, Mic (formerly known as PolicyMic), the Times of Israel, Geektime, AlterNet, the Oakland Tribune, Walla! News, and the Jewish Exponent.