The nation remains gripped in the throes of a political crisis as a handful of swing states continue the painstaking process of counting mail-in ballots to determine who has won the White House.
But it didn’t have to be this way.
Confronting a presidential race during an unprecedented pandemic, many states prepared months ago to process an enormous number of ballots before Election Day to prevent delaying a result.
But Republican-led legislatures in states that are the center of chaos, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, refused to pass laws that would have allowed pre-canvassing mail ballots before Nov. 3.
Pre-canvassing, which currently takes place in 32 states under both Republican and Democratic control, does not include counting or tabulating votes but allows officials to check mail-in ballots for their eligibility and preparing them to be scanned, speeding up the process.
In Pennsylvania, where counting continues and both campaigns have claimed victory, the GOP-led state legislature ignored pleas from local officials to make badly needed fixes before the election.
“We’re doing the best with the hand we’ve been dealt,” Holly Brandon, the elections director in Montour County, told Spotlight PA on Election Day Eve, but said local lawmakers had “created this monster.”
Negotiations broke down between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the GOP-controlled House which refused to act even as the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania warned results could be delayed for weeks without pre-canvassing.
As predicted, a result in the Keystone State may not be known for days and it is now the site of protests and a flurry of litigation between President Trump’s re-election campaign and Philadelphia officials.
Wisconsin’s legislature also ignored entreaties from native son and GOP Sen. Ron Johnson who in September warned that they would need to pass a bill to allow mail-in ballots to be counted before the election.
“I am highly concerned that the results will not be known on election night because of this massive increase of mail-in balloting,” Johnson presciently warned on Sept. 27.
“It takes days or weeks to find out who the winner is,” he went on.
Biden was declared the winner of the battleground state and its 10 electoral votes on Wednesday afternoon but the vote count has already been called into question by Trump’s campaign who have called for an official recount.
In Michigan, Republicans only agreed to let some larger counties get a 10-hour head start counting millions of votes.
As of Thursday afternoon, Joe Biden leads the Electoral College 264-214 after Fox News and AP called Arizona for the former veep — a decision which has infuriated the Trump campaign.
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