With record voting turnout, ballot counting could take several days

President Donald Trump said this week he would like to have a winner declared on election night. However, that has never been the case since the ballot counting process typically lasts days, if not weeks.

With the record turnout, getting election results could be slower next week. However, all counties must have results certified and sent to the state by Nov. 17.

More than eight million Texans have already voted in what’s expected to be an all-time record turnout. Many counties have seen a big increase in requests for mail-in ballots.

“We mailed out right at 44,000 ballots,” said Collin County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet. “That compares to 21,000 four years ago, so we are significantly higher than that.”

For weeks, President Trump has been critical of the mail-in voting process.

Twitter flagged the president’s tweet this week that said there are “big problems and discrepancies” with mail-in ballots. He addressed the issue again on Tuesday while leaving the White House.

“It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on Nov. 3 instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate,” he said. “I don’t believe that that’s by our laws. I don’t believe that.”

Here are the facts.

On election nights when winners are declared, those are only projections. Election results are not official until weeks after the election.

“The mail-in ballots, as long as we get a ballot that is postmarked by Election Day, that ballot can come the day after Election Day and be valid,” Sherbet said. “Then you have your overseas military ballot. So there is a process by law that you have to allow for some extra time for those ballots to come back in.”

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson says laws are in place for the allotted time available for counties and states to count ballots.

“Where the courts have been stepping in, generally democratic states want to say because of the uncertainty of the coronavirus, we want to extend the counting mail ballots for three days or a week or something,” Jillson said. “And the courts are saying no, you can’t change the rules late in the process. All that really means for the average voter is get your vote in.”

In Denton, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties, nearly 80 percent of all mail-in ballots have already been received.

With that said, Sherbet does not believe North Texas counties will spend days counting mail-in ballots.

“I absolutely don't see an onslaught of ballots coming in after Election Day to be added to the count,” he said. “The ones that are postmarked on election days for this county may be 100 or 200.”

With six days until Election Day, officials suggest you put your ballot in an official drop box or take your ballot to the poll and vote in person instead.