WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — On the eve of a historic presidential election, those tasked with counting votes and projecting a winner say it’s likely the presidential results will not be known on election night, a scenario they say is not cause for concern.
“I do anticipate that it may be a day or two before we see a clear outcome,” said Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico Secretary of state and the President of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “We are going to have to have a little grace with those states because it’s just impossible to get through that many mail-in ballots no matter how efficient, no matter how well run.”
The record level of mail-in and early ballots will take longer to count. Many battleground states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — by law — cannot begin counting any of the ballots they’ve already received until Election Day.
“We have really had to get up to speed on what the rules in the various states are,” said Julie Pace, Washington Bureau Chief for the Associated Press, historically one of the authorities on calling elections. Before making a call this year in the presidential race, Pace says the AP will have to be patient in key battleground states.
“We expect that vote could be counted more slowly. So it’s really about having clarity, not just about what the vote that has come in says, but also how much vote is still left outstanding,” she said.
But the delayed count may spark both presidential campaigns’ teams of lawyers into action.
“The Supreme Court has ruled on things and if people go outside that, obviously we’re going to challenge it and we’re going to fight if we think there’s games being played,” said Eric Trump, President Trump’s son and campaign surrogate. Eric Trump told NewsNation the campaign will be watching for signs of voter fraud.
“If we think there’s fraud, you better believe we’ll be willing to fight if we think there’s something fraudulent,” he said.
At a rally Sunday, President Trump said of Pennsylvania “As soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers.” Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about any votes counted after election day.
Democrats say Joe Biden’s campaign will also be prepared for post-election litigation if necessary.
“We’re going to be ready. We’ve been active in litigation leading up to this point, we’re going to be active in litigation down the road if it needs to be,” said Chris Meagher, Deputy Communications Director with the Democratic National Committee.
Meagher says the DNC is prepared for Trump campaign efforts to disqualify valid ballots in states like Pennsylvania after Election Day. Meagher says trying to discount them may disenfranchise voters of both parties.
“When he’s talking about not counting those ballots or calling it on election day, many of those people could be Donald Trump supporters.”
Toulouse says she has received no valid reports of widespread or systematic voter fraud from any of the 50 secretaries of state. There have been few isolated reports of ballots discarded or destroyed.