Expect delays in results: Why it takes longer to count mail-in ballots

Showdown over mail-in ballots heating up ahead general election
Posted at 5:19 AM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 07:45:35-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Over 93 million votes have already been cast in this year's presidential election, and it is projected that that number could hit 100 million by Tuesday's election. Meanwhile, experts are predicting a delay in results, leaving many voters wondering why it takes longer to count mail-in votes, and what happens if there's a discrepancy?

We're looking at a historic election to begin with, even locally. According to county officials, more than 50% of registered voters in El Paso and Pueblo counties have already cast their ballots.

Election experts say processing and tabulating mail-in votes takes longer because all the verification that's normally done at a polling place still needs to happen. Plus mail-in ballots require extra steps, like opening the envelope and unfolding the ballot.

In Colorado, elections officials may start counting ballots on Oct. 19, 15 days ahead of the election. In other states, poll workers can't do any verification or processing till election day.

"Given the fact that we're going to have so many mail ballots this year, if we have to wait a few days to have an accurate count, that's a good thing," said Bob Brandon, president of the Fair Elections Center, a nonprofit that focuses on voting rights and election reform.

If a ballot dispute were to happen, one expert says that's when the courts will step in.

"Typically, you'll see bipartisan teams looking at these disputed ballots. Then eventually, if the race remains too close to call, we can see these get litigated in court," said Matthew Weil, director of the Elections Project at The Bipartisan Policy Center.

Colorado will open more than 340 vote centers today. You may vote at a voting service and polling center through 7 p.m. on Election day.

If you need help finding your nearest vote center and hours of operation, click here.