Americans might not know the winner of major races by the end of Election Day, Federal Elections Commission Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said Monday.
“Let me just tell everybody, we’re all going to need to take a deep breath and be patient this year because there’s a substantial chance we are not going to know on election night what the results are,” Weintraub said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”
“Possibly for the presidency but maybe for many other races that are important to people, and that’s OK. If it takes a little bit longer to count all the votes accurately, that’s what we need to do in order to ensure that everyone’s vote counts,” she said.
There’s “a substantial chance” that the results won’t be out on election night, says Federal Election Commission’s Ellen Weintraub. “If it takes a little bit longer to count all the votes accurately, that’s what we need to do in order to ensure that everyone’s vote counts.” pic.twitter.com/mNdwuzjvyt
— New Day (@NewDay) August 10, 2020
The reason: mail-in ballots.
“Wisconsin’s election in April, in many ways a fiasco, offers a positive lesson in how to deal with a long count. It took six days for election officials to tally up the 1.1 million absentee ballots cast (a state-record-shattering 72 percent of all ballots),” Weintraub wrote in May in an Op-Ed for The New York Times along with Kevin Kruse, a professor of history at Princeton University.
In the Op-Ed, the writers said any time change happens, what used to be routine takes longer.
“Switching over to a substantially mail-based voting system in a matter of months will almost certainly bring delays in counting those many new millions of absentee ballots, particularly if administrators are not empowered to start tallying them until the end of Election Day. So we’ll have to wait,” Weintraub and Kruse wrote.
“Fortunately, time is built into the system, even for the presidential race. There’s no requirement that a presidential race be called on election night, or even in November. This year, federal law sets Dec. 8 as the deadline to determine which presidential candidate has won each state, 35 days after Election Day,” they wrote.
During Monday’s interview, Weintraub, who has been FEC commissioner since 2002, said there is no difference to those she called “experts” between absentee ballots and the mass mail-in voting that President Donald Trump has opposed.
She said there “absolutely” can be an honest election with mail-in voting.
Weintraub also insisted that Congress needs to appropriate more than the $400 million already being spent in order to help states manage the election.
Mike Baker, a Fox News commentator and former CIA operative, questioned the wisdom of mail-in voting on a mass scale during a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan show.
“The realities are — you got to be pragmatic — you want to go all, you know, mail ballots or whatever, hey, just be aware of the fact that you could have a lot of problems,” Baker said.
Those problems could include “disqualified ballots, because of a variety of reasons, a lot of lost ballots, and so, if what you want to do is sow chaos, and dissent and further this divide, then yeah, that’s a pretty good way to do it,” he said.
Weintraub has been a staunch critic of Trump’s warnings about fraud in mail-in voting, so much so that last fall, Caroline Hunter, a Republican member of the FEC, took her to task in an Op-Ed on Politico.
“Unfortunately, while Weintraub’s tweets and interviews might make for good soundbites and clickbait, they are harming the legitimacy of the institution she purports to serve,” Hunter wrote. “Commissioners are meant to be independent and neutral arbiters of campaign finance law. Yet Weintraub’s statements indicate that she has prematurely judged matters that could come before the FEC, and that she radically rejects any legal perspective other than her own.
“Not only that, she risks misleading the public about what the FEC does and what campaign finance law really says. Not surprisingly, Weintraub’s activities are causing consternation and confusion in several quarters, including on Capitol Hill, and people are starting to ask questions, including about her possible misuse of government resources for ideological and political purposes.”
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