Why the results drag on so long?

Three days after November 3, the results of the US election are still not known.

Friday, November 6, the name of the new president of the United States is still not known. Three days after Election day, the results in five states are still pending, a strange situation for French people used to seeing the face of their new president appear at 8 p.m. in each election.

In the United States, the name of the winner of the election is usually known before the official proclamation of the results by the states. It is the media which attribute the States - and therefore the voters - to one or the other of the candidates, when the projections are sufficiently certain. When one of the two candidates brings together the 270 electors necessary for his election, the name of the winner is then declared. Usually a name comes out on election night, but this year it takes longer to see the results.

 A small gap between the candidates which slows the results

The counting of votes has always been long in the United States. However, during the previous elections, the greater differences between the candidates allowed the media to pronounce more quickly on the results.

This 2020 election is singular by the very small differences recorded between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as in Georgia where only 900 votes separated Joe Biden from Donald Trump on Friday noon. These small differences in several contested states by both sides prevented the media from deciding quickly in many states for either candidate.

 The long counting of the postal vote

To avoid queues in these times of pandemic, several states have decided to facilitate postal voting. Nearly 64 million Americans are said to have voted this way in 2020, double what was observed in 2016.

However, many states were not prepared to respond effectively to the influx of this remote voting. "It's important for the people of this country to understand that postal voting is new to Nevada," Joe Gloria of Clark County, Nevada explained, "so our process is going a little slower." Postal voting takes longer to be counted than voting in person: it is necessary to sort, unseal the envelopes, verify the signatures, record the votes.

According to the American media, Democratic voters, considered to be more respectful of health guidelines, are more likely to vote Democratic. This is the reason why the more the days pass, the more Joe Biden's score increases, as the postal votes are recorded. Cumulated with the vote of the cities, which takes longer to count because it is recorded in more crowded polling centers, this forms "the blue shift", that is to say the reversal of the vote at the Democratic favor, which adds uncertainty.

Different laws from one state to another

In the United States, each state votes according to its own laws, and its own procedures. Thus, several states, such as Florida or Ohio, have authorized the counting of early and postal votes before November 3. Their results could be announced quickly.

But others, such as Michigan, Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, did not allow counting until election day itself. This is why the United States is suspended from Pennsylvania's results even today.

In addition, the American postal services, in great economic difficulties, have accumulated delivery delays, forcing some states to accept ballots arriving several days after Election Day, the postmark of which attested to a vote in time and in hour.

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