As mail-in voting surged in 2020, experts insist that counting every vote will take time—and that's completely democratic. (Shutterstock)
As mail-in voting surged in 2020, experts insist that counting every vote will take time—and that's completely democratic. (Shutterstock)

While mail-in voters like Andrea Rodriguez are still waiting for their vote to be counted, experts say that counting every vote will take time (as it always does in elections).

Andrea Rodriguez stayed up late on election night to watch the results come in, but so far, since polls closed on Tuesday, her vote has not been counted. 

The ballot she sent on Oct. 21 is still “in delivery,” according to the tracking software in New York state, she told COURIER. While there are ways to track your ballot’s progress once it’s in the mail or in a drop box, they vary from state to state.

President Trump has repeatedly pushed false and misleading information about the security of mail-in votes, and that misinformation has led to fear for voters like Rodriguez.

“I was nervous when I submitted my ballot,” she said. “I know there has been a lot said about people throwing out ballots, so that concern popped into my head, but aside from that, I did feel excited because this is my third time voting.” 

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Although President Trump has repeatedly lied about the integrity of the vote and made baseless claims about ballot tampering in recent months there have been no reports of any major efforts to alter the vote. There is also a wealth of data showing that voter fraud is exceedingly rare—according to the Brennan Center for Justice, the likelihood of being struck by lightning is higher.

Rodriguez explained that she has switched between feeling nervous about the results and excited to be able to participate in the process. She became a citizen in 2008 after moving to the United States from Ecuador. 

“I didn’t get to vote for Obama the first time, so it’s always exciting to vote,” she said. 

In a closely watched election and after four divisive years, the fact that Rodriguez’ ballot has not yet been counted yet sparked some initial panic. But official results from an election always take several days or even weeks to certify, according to Professor Larry Garber who works as an adjunct professor at University of Arizona Law School, is a legal consultant, and serves on the National Task Force on Election Crises.

“Given the embarrassment over the miscalls in 2000, networks have become much more cautious in calling elections in specific states,” Garber told COURIER. “And this year their job was complicated by the fact that large numbers of votes were cast by mail,” 

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Waiting for the official results might be the toughest part of this election, wrote the National Task Force on Election Crises in a report released Nov. 4. However they explain, “our system was designed for this. We need to get the count right, even if it takes time. While you’re reading this, thousands of seasoned election professionals across the country are working around the clock to carefully count every ballot, just like they’re supposed to.” 

Although anxiety is running high Garber noted just how well things went on Election Day. 

“From an election expert perspective, I am in awe of how well the election yesterday was conducted,” he said. “Most of the concerns that were raised and debated in previous days or weeks before the election did not materialize and even counting so far has taken place more expeditiously than many folks anticipated.” 

Plus the United States saw an incredible number of people turnout to vote. “The highest in 100 plus years,” Garber said. “The importance of these numbers demonstrates the continued commitment to democratic forms of government and reflects the ability to adapt quickly in the face of the pandemic.”