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How the US counts votes

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Channel: Vox
Categories: Government & Politics   |   Social Science  
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Follow the results of the 2020 presidential election at:

In a normal presidential election year, many Americans go from casting our vote before work in the morning to turning off the TV before bed, secure in our knowledge of who will lead the country for the next four years. But in 2020, theres a better-than-average chance that wont happen.

Even before the coronavirus struck, more Americans each election were either voting early or voting my mail. But in 2020, these numbers are expected to skyrocket, and that means states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which dont start counting mail-in ballots until election day, probably wont have results for several days. This year, voters are facing a pandemic, a deliberately underfunded postal service, and the closure of polling locations in battleground states like Georgia, Ohio, Arizona, and Texas.

In this video, we take a comprehensive deep dive into how states count votes. Each of the 3,141 counties in the US has its own rules, but there are some basic steps that are mostly the same across the country. Whether youre voting in person early, on election day, by mail, or dropping off your ballot, we break down some of the differences and similarities in how and when states collect, verify, process, and count ballots.

Once you understand how votes are counted, its clear just how important each vote really is.

Further reading:
Voting by mail and absentee voting (MIT Election Data and Science Lab)

Democracy Diverted: Polling Place Closures and the Right to Vote (The Leadership Conference Education Fund)

Election night marks the end of one phase of campaign 2020 and the start of another (Pew)

How Quickly Will Your Absentee Vote Be Counted? A State-by-State Timeline (New York Times)

The Voting Process: From the Ballot Box to the Presidency (NBC News)

How Mail-in Voting Works In Ohio: A Step-By-Step Guide (WVU)

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