Be Wary of Election Night Results

Because of a surge in mail-in voting, major news networks warn voters that the results will likely remain indeterminable by the end of election night.

If anything is clear about the results of the upcoming presidential election on Nov. 3, it is that the winner will most likely remain unclear by the end of the night. A recent New York Times article cited a poll by Gallup and the Knight Foundation, which found that more than half of Americans think it could take a week or longer for election results to become definitive. News outlets are placing an emphasis on why this time is needed—if they rush to compete against other media outlets for producing the results of the election, there is a chance they could become inaccurate. 

The main reasoning behind why this election could take longer than usual to determine its winner is because of a surge in mail-in voting. A Pew Research Center survey showed that mail-in voting accounted for over half of this year’s primary votes, which is roughly double the mail-in share of the votes in the 2016 general election. This will most likely be the case for the general election happening on Tuesday as well. It’s clear that this surge is due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes some states have made to their voting laws and procedures. 

According to that same survey, around 58 percent of Joe Biden’s supporters said that they prefer to vote by mail, compared to just 17 percent of Donald Trump’s supporters. This discrepancy in party-representation has proven cause for concern in some major cities. As Donald Trump has consistently made false claims about the accuracy and integrity of mail-in voting, cities like Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C. are preparing in advance by applying plywood to storefronts and imposing city-wide curfews. Washington, D.C. police have even purchased $130,000 worth of tear gas to combat any rioting.

“There is never a final vote on Election Day—that’s an attempt to deceive voters,” John Dickerson, from CBS News, said.

All major news networks plan on broadcasting live election night coverage of the results as they roll in, including PBS, CBS, NBC, C-SPAN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC and CNN. Executives and anchors from many of these organizations have emphasized a need for patience when determining the winner of this election. The in-person ballots are only a fraction of the votes casted in this election, and any pre-emptive judgment could wreak havoc on the possibility of a peaceful outcome.