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Voting by mail: Why when your vote gets counted matters

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Posted at 4:44 PM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 18:31:47-04

NEW YORK — Election officials in New York City said Tuesday there have already been 227,000 requests for absentee ballots for the November General Election.

The digital request portal went live two weeks ago, and election officials also expect to exceed the roughly 800,000 absentee ballot requested for the June primary.

After about half of the country voted by mail during the Primaries, there is a lot of data about which voters prefer mailing in their ballots. Pew Research found about a third of White and Black voters vote by mail, about half of Hispanic voters prefer a mail-in ballot, and more than 60% of Asian Americans mailed their ballots.

Pew also found well more than half of Democrat nominee Joe Biden’s supporters plan to vote by mail, whereas just a tiny fraction of President Trump’s supports, 10%, will use mail-in ballots.

The preference based on candidates means it is quite possible Trump could appear to do better on Election Night when day-of results are tabulated, but as more mail-in votes are counted in the days after Election Day, Biden could start doing better.

President Trump has continued to cast doubt on vote by mail system, including saying the counting takes too long. his skepticism is part of the reason there is mounting pressure for municipalities to count mail-in ballots sooner.

New York’s Primary was June 23, and in NYC absentee ballot counting did not begin until nearly two week later on July 6. Even after the long delay blamed on cross-checking absentee ballots with in-person votes, counting moved very slowly delaying results in a key race involving Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

President Trump inaccurately refers to what happened in Maloney’s race as fraud that is being covered up.

“They declared her the winner because they heard I found out about it,” Trump said Monday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered absentee counting to begin within 48 hours in New York this November, but it could still take a week or two for final results.

The real concern is in key swing state that do not count ballots as they come in, but wait until Election Day. This means results in places like Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could take days, perhaps a week or two.