We'll be following the lead-up to Election Day and news as it happens on Tuesday as voters cast their ballots. Check back often for updates.
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Friday, November 6
4:33 p.m. - Armed men arrested near Philadelphia vote counting location
Two men armed with handguns were arrested Thursday near the Philadelphia convention center where an ongoing vote count could decide the presidential election, police said.
The men, ages 42 and 61, traveled to the city from the Virginia Beach, Virginia, area in a Hummer and did not have permits to carry the weapons in Pennsylvania, police said.
They were arrested after the FBI in Virginia relayed a tip about their plans to Philadelphia police. Officers stopped the men on the street about a block away from the vehicle, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.
The 61-year-old man had a 9mm Beretta in a holster and the 42-year-old man had a .40-caliber Beretta handgun inside his jacket, Outlaw said. An AR-style rifle without a serial number and ammunition were found inside the vehicle, Outlaw said.
A woman with the men was not arrested, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said.
The arrests drew outsized attention amid heightened tensions over the undecided presidential race, but officials cautioned against reading too much into them. There was no indications that anyone else was involved or that the men are members of an extremist group. They did not say why the men went to Philadelphia.
A silver Hummer with Virginia license plates was parked Friday at the location where police say they found the men. It was adorned with an American flag and a window sticker for the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon.
The men will be charged with firearms offenses. Their names have not been made public. They have yet to be arraigned. Information on lawyers who could comment on their behalf was not immediately available.
3:56 p.m. - Explainer: Most service members abroad rely on mail ballots
As the vote counting continues to determine the next United States president, attention is turning to the role that military and overseas absentee ballots will play in the final result. In razor-close states, it could be a significant one.
The country has a long history of making sure active duty military personnel can vote regardless of where they are stationed. President Abraham Lincoln issued an order during the Civil War allowing troops to return home to cast a ballot if they could not vote absentee. States set up remote voting at military encampments, and some allowed troops to designate a proxy who could vote on their behalf, the Congressional Research Service reports.
In 1942, Congress passed the first law that guaranteed the right to vote in federal elections to members of the Armed Forces who were away during wartime. Fast forward to 2009, when Congress passed a bill requiring states to set up a system to transmit absentee ballots to military and civilian voters who were overseas during federal elections.
Why are military ballots still coming in?
Most military personnel far from home mail an absentee ballot, and those coming from overseas take, on average, about six days, according to a report from Count Every Hero, a nonpartisan group committed to ensuring service member’s right to vote is protected.
The group says 28 states and the District of Columbia accept and count ballots that arrive from overseas after election day. They include Georgia, which accepts them up to three days after the election as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. North Carolina accepts them until Nov. 12; and Nevada and Pennsylvania until Nov. 10.
Could military ballots influence the results in any of the states that have yet to be called?
Possibly. In the 2016 presidential election, Georgia received more than 5,600 ballots from uniformed service members; North Carolina received nearly 11,000; Pennsylvania received nearly 7,800 and Nevada about 2,700, according to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission. In the razor-thin election in Georgia, the secretary of state's office says as many as 8,900 ballots that have been transmitted to military and overseas voters could still arrive by close of business Friday.
- By the AP’s Kevin Freking
President Donald Trump on Thursday tweeted “Stop The Count!" as results showed him well ahead in various battleground states. Had the states complied, they would have prevented thousands of people serving in the military from having their vote counted.
“Any attempts to stop vote counts, or disqualify mail-in ballots will disproportionately affect military voters," Count Every Hero research manager Jack Noland said.
3:13 p.m. - Protesters gather downtown and outside Allegheny County elections warehouse
Demonstrators supporting President Donald Trump gathered in front of the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh Friday afternoon, demanding that elections officials “count legal votes.” The phase has been used by the president to falsely claim that illegal ballots are being counted.
— Kiley Koscinski (@kileykoscinski) November 6, 2020
The group, which filled the stairs of the portico, was quickly met by counter-protesters, and the two crowds began to yell at each other. Pro-Trump protesters yelled “Four more years!” while the anti-Trump group chanted “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!”
Pittsburgh Police moved between the groups and soon, officers in riot gear arrived. Media were forced onto Grant Street.
Earlier Friday, protesters gathered outside the Allegheny County Elections warehouse with similar signs. Inside, elections workers were counting the county’s ballots, with observers standing by to examine.
“On 3, everyone say ‘election integrity!’”
Trump supporters posing for a photo outside the warehouse, w signs that say ‘count legal votes.’
That, of course, is what’s happening right now. pic.twitter.com/PLbiRPkclW
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 6, 2020
2:45 p.m. – Democrat Josh Shapiro reelected as Pennsylvania Attorney General
Pennsylvania voters are returning at least 17 incumbent members to Congress with one race undecided, and have elected the first Republican auditor general in more than two decades. Democrat Josh Shapiro also has won a second term as the state's attorney general.
Two more incumbent congressional Democrats won Friday, U.S. Reps. Susan Wild in the Allentown area and Matt Cartwright in Scranton. The only uncalled congressional race in the state is in the Pittsburgh area, where U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb faces Republican Sean Parnell.
Republican Timothy DeFoor will be the state’s next auditor general after outpacing Democrat Nina Ahmad. Vote counting continues for state treasurer. Republicans will keep majority control of both chambers of the General Assembly.
2:34 p.m. - Pam Iovino concedes in state Senate District 37
Iovino has conceded in state Senate District 37. https://t.co/h6kOd3KNqM
— Chris Potter (@CPotterPgh) November 6, 2020
Allegheny County Democrats have lost a seat in the state Senate. Pam Iovino conceded defeat to Republican challenger Devlin Robinson in the 37th District on Friday.
The Associated Press had called the race earlier this week, but on Thursday Iovino said there were still votes to be counted. That changed Friday afternoon, when her campaign tweeted to supporters, "We fought the good fight, but it looks like there are not enough votes remaining of us to get the result we were hoping for."
Robinson is a retired Marine who runs a medical supply business. His victory makes it extremely likely the GOP will retain control of the state Senate. The 37th District stretches from the airport area through the South Hills.
It's long been a Republican stronghold, but Iovino won control of it in a 2019 special election after her predecessor, Guy Reschenthaler, won a seat in Congress. Republicans saw it as a top pick-up opportunity this year. A race in the neighboring 45th district, where Democrat Jim Brewster faces a challenge from Nicole Ziccarelli, is too close to call.
12:34 p.m. – Elections official says Allegheny Co. ballot counting going smoothly
Allegheny County elections manager David Voye said the county is in the process of counting roughly 6,800 ballots that were damaged or wouldn’t go through the scanner.
Elections workers will also count more than 4,000 ballots from military and overseas voters. After those ballots are counted, they’ll provide updated results.
The county is also in the process of alphabetizing 29,000 ballots that will begin to be counted after 5 p.m.
8:59 a.m. - Biden takes slight lead in PA
NPR reports that with new votes in from Philadelphia, Joe Biden has taken a slight lead in Pennsylvania.
JUST IN: With the latest new votes reporting from Philadelphia, Joe Biden has taken a slight lead statewide in Pennsylvania.
Biden leads by 5,594
— NPR (@NPR) November 6, 2020
7:25 a.m. - Elections chief: PA making good headway in count
Pennsylvania's elections chief says she expects the number of ballots left to count in the presidential race to dwindle rapidly from hundreds of thousands.
President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are fighting for the largest electoral prize yet to be called. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said Thursday that it's a tight race. She says counties are making good progress. Some of the state’s most populous locales reported finishing their tallies.
The Trump campaign and the Republican Party have filed a flurry of lawsuits. The campaign tried to stop the count in Philadelphia, but a federal judge refused to go along.
Thursday, November 5
7:18 p.m. - Judge nixes Trump bid to stop Philly vote count
A federal judge has denied a bid by President Donald Trump's campaign to stop the vote count in Philadelphia over observer access, urging the two sides to instead forge an agreement.
U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond suggested each party be allowed 60 observers inside a hall at a downtown convention center where the final ballots are being tallied. As the hearing unfolded Thursday evening, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were locked in a tight battle for the 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania.
Diamond, an appointee of President George W. Bush, chastened the lawyers as both sides bickered about who was following the rules and reminded them they are officers of the court.
“Really, can’t we be responsible adults here and reach an agreement?” the exasperated judge asked. “The whole thing could (soon) be moot.”
Republicans went to court Thursday afternoon to complain that election officials in the Democratic-led city were ignoring a state court order they’d won earlier in the day to give them a closer view of ballot processing.
7:11 p.m. - GOP US Rep. Perry wins reelection in Harrisburg-York area
Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry has won a fifth term in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District in the Harrisburg-York area. Perry beat Democrat Eugene DePasquale, the state’s two-term auditor general.
Perry is a staunch Trump supporter and owner of one of the most conservative voting records in the U.S. House. He hung on for another term in a district that is becoming less conservative.
The race was called as counting of Pennsylvania ballots continued Thursday. Results are still unclear in the presidential contest, some U.S. House races, and the races for state attorney general, auditor general and treasurer.
6:37 p.m. - Demonstrators gather on the North Side to demand that all votes be counted
People are gathering in Pittsburgh’s North Side this evening demanding every vote be counted before a presidential winner is declared.
I’m at a “Count our Votes,” rally on Pittsburgh’s North Side this afternoon. We’re at the @OnePennsylvania headquarters where @1hood, the Working Families Party, the Black Political Empowerment Project and others are gathered to demand every vote be counted. @905wesa pic.twitter.com/rCZjkCWRvP
— Kiley Koscinski (@kileykoscinski) November 5, 2020
5:17 p.m. - Pennsylvania anticipates quick progress on vote counting
Pennsylvania still has hundreds of thousands of ballots left to count in the presidential race, but the state's elections chief is signaling the number is expected to dwindle rapidly. President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are fighting for the largest remaining electoral prize yet to be called. Some of the state’s most populous locales reported finishing their tallies Thursday.
The Trump campaign has asked a federal judge to stop the count in Philadelphia. It alleges city officials deprived their observers of meaningful access. The city says it's complying with the law. There was no immediate ruling.
4:55 p.m. - Explainer: What effects could lawsuits have on the election?
Two days later, an uneasy United States is still waiting to hear who will be its next president. With Democrat Joe Biden pushing closer to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win, President Donald Trump’s campaign has attacked the integrity of the voting process with lawsuits in three key states. They are Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.
Here, Colleen Long, a national reporter in the Washington bureau of The Associated Press who is leading coverage of the legal challenges, breaks down how these lawsuits could affect the presidential election.
What are these lawsuits trying to do?
In Pennsylvania and Michigan, the campaign wanted to temporarily halt vote counting until Republicans got more oversight of the tally. The lawsuit in Georgia asked for a judge's order to make sure the state is following the law around absentee ballots. But judges already swatted down the Michigan and Georgia ones. They could still be appealed, though.
What are experts saying?
Election law experts and state election officials have overwhelmingly said there has been no sign of widespread or even sporadic voter fraud. Counting votes just takes more time than in past years because the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people go about it. But the Trump campaign says these lawsuits are necessary anyway. Meanwhile, Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer says the suits have no merit and are just meant to spread a false narrative about the electoral process. He said it's more about Trump's own effort to discredit the election.
Can these legal maneuvers have consequences?
Sure. Bush v. Gore in 2000 was a good example of how litigation can affect the outcome of an election. But legal experts say today, a lawsuit with that kind of power would have to come out of a state where the result there would determine who wins the overall election. Also, the difference between the candidates’ vote totals would have to be smaller than the ballots at stake in the lawsuit. And neither condition has been met yet.
Are these the only ones?
No, there were hundreds filed before the election by both sides, and they had to do with changes to how the election was going to work because of the coronavirus pandemic. When absentee ballots could be counted until, whether you had to wear a mask, that kind of thing. Some of them were still live on Nov. 3, but most were sorted out.
4:31 p.m. - Some Pennsylvania counties still waiting to count ballots
Several Pennsylvania counties are choosing to separate—but not count—mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day, but arriving after November 3rd. That’s contrary to Department of State guidance.
A majority of the state’s mail-in ballots have already arrived at county election offices.
The Department of State says any additional ballots that arrive by Friday at 5 p.m. must still be counted, and separated.
But WITF has confirmed eight counties are waiting to count them.
Some, like Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz, say it’s a way to avoid counting votes twice.
As an example, he cites how a mail-in voter may have cast a ballot on Election Day because their ballot didn't arrive in time.
"So we can't make a determination on their provisional ballot until we know for sure if we get their mail in ballot, which would have precedent,” Kantz said.
While Lancaster County says it's going to count the ballots early next week, the others that are holding out won't say when they'll be tabulated.
The Wolf administration has repeatedly said every vote cast in the election must be counted.
4:17 p.m. - Ballot referendum to strengthen Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board appears likely to pass
If it does, city officers COULD face termination if they don’t cooperate with review board investigations. Beth Pittinger is the board’s executive director, and she says the vote speaks volumes about what residents want.
“It’s a collective yearning for change and that’s what, I think, this referendum result represents,” Pittinger said.
The police union has said the referendum violates its contract rights, but Pittinger says they are prepared to defend it in court. The review board investigates citizen complaints against police and recommends discipline based on its findings.
1:53 p.m. – County officials give updates, timeline for remaining ballots
Allegheny County officials said at a press conference Thursday that approximately 29,000 re-issued ballots will be counted after 5 p.m. Friday. The county must wait to count these ballots per a federal court order.
State law requires all 67 PA counties to wait 3 days (til Friday) to begin this process.
“This is a normal process that happens every year,” says County Exec Rich Fitzgerald (who oversees both the Board of Elections and the Return Board process).
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 5, 2020
The other 6,800 remaining ballots will be reviewed by the Return Board at 9 a.m. Friday. These are ballots that have issues with them, such as being torn in the mail, missing a date, or other minor issues. The Return Board is sworn in by the Board of Elections and observers from both parties can view the process.
Mail-in ballots will be reviewed first, followed by the 29k reissued ballots and then provisional ballots.
The county doesn’t have an exact number of provisional ballots but Fitzgerald estimates it is between 10-15k.
They do not have a timeline for when they’ll be done. /end
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 5, 2020
12:43 p.m. - Pennsylvania: Still hundreds of thousands of ballots to count
Pennsylvania is reporting it still has hundreds of thousands of ballots left to count as Democrat Joe Biden and President Donald Trump fought to the end for the White House. Some of the state’s most populous locales reported finishing their tallies Thursday. The Trump campaign and the Republican Party have mounted several legal challenges to aspects of the vote count. Trump scored one legal victory as a state appeals court granted more access to party and candidate observers in Philadelphia. The city filed appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It cited concerns over worker safety and the potential for intimidation.
11:01 a.m. - Iovino says don't count her out yet
State Senator Pam Iovino is saying that until all the ballots are counted in her 37th District, it would be wrong to count her out.
Iovino currently trails Republican challenger Devlin Robinson by over 8,000 votes. And the Associated Press called the race for Robinson on Wednesday. But in a series of Thursday-morning tweets, the Iovino campaign said "there remain an unknown number of votes that will need to be counted by hand. This unknown number includes provisional ballots and ballots that were unscannable and need to be manually reviewed. ... It is our understanding that most of these ballots will be tabulated on Friday."
Iovino won the seat, which stretches from the airport-area into the South Hills of Pittsburgh in a 2019 special election. Republicans considered it a top target, and fielded Robinson against her in a match-up of two area natives with military backgrounds. Democrats had hoped to defend the seat in a bid to flip the state Senate, but those hopes appear dashed by a lackluster downballot performance across the state.
9:05 a.m. - Allegheny County will finish counting remaining mail-in ballots Friday
Allegheny finished counting mail-ins last night. There are still 35,413 ballots mail-ins left to count. Officials will review them Friday.
~29k are re-issued ballots, 2,250 are unscannable, and 4,350 need reviewing for of reasons (like missing a date on declaration envelope)
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 5, 2020
Also — six precincts (out of 1,323) still have to report results.
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 5, 2020
7:22 a.m. - Why AP hasn't called Pennsylvania
The Associated Press has not declared a winner in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, because there were roughly 1 million votes left to be counted Wednesday afternoon in the contest between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. Trump, who held a 675,000-vote lead early Wednesday, prematurely declared victory in the state. By Wednesday afternoon, his lead had slipped to 326,000. And the race is destined to get tighter. The vast majority of the votes left to be counted there were cast by mail — and that is a form of voting that Biden has carried by a large margin. That’s probably because Trump has spent months claiming without proof that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.
7:16 a.m. - Conor Lamb declares victory in uncalled race
Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb has declared victory in Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District in the Pittsburgh area.
The Associated Press has not yet called that race.
Lamb was facing Republican Sean Parnell. Lamb became a Democratic star in 2018 when he won two races in two districts that had been hostile to Democrats.
Wednesday, November 4
7:00 p.m. - Demonstrators gather Downtown to demand that “every ballot be counted” in Pa.
The state has been a main focus of the 2020 Election, as ballots are still being counted to determine which presidential candidate will earn the commonwealth’s 20 electoral votes.
Read more here.
6:23 p.m. - County scans additional 29,000 ballots
Allegheny County officials have scanned an additional 29,008 ballots since the last update which brings today’s total to 93,699 and the number of ballots cast in the county to 633,468, according to a release. Today, 525 returned ballots that were postmarked on or before Election Day that were received.
5:31 p.m. - Election Protection Coalition said some voters ran into a few issues during Election Day
During a news conference on Wednesday, the Coalition said problems included delays in the opening of some polls, language interpretation access, and the presence of armed constables at polling locations. Salewa Ogunmefun with the Center for Popular Democracy, says voter identification was an issue across the state.
“All of poll workers in various places throughout the state, they were asking for IDs and we heard from voters that it made a lot of people uncomfortable,” Ogunmefun said. “And there were a lot of situations we were able to have that resolved. But there were also some situations that that wasn’t able to be resolved.”
She said many of those asked to show ID were migrant voters, and Ogunmefun says officials claimed it was because they “couldn’t understand” the person’s name. The Election Protection coalition consists of over a dozen organizations throughout Pennsylvania.
5:12 p.m. - Pennsylvania chips away at 1M vote count amid Trump lawsuit
Election workers across Pennsylvania are chipping away at more than 1 million uncounted mail ballots. The nation is awaiting results in a presidential battleground whose trove of 20 electoral votes remained the largest prize yet to be called for President Donald Trump or native son Joe Biden.
The Trump campaign says it sued Wednesday to temporarily stop the count over what it called a lack of transparency.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf condemned the suit as a “disgraceful” attempt to undermine the election. State officials are counseling patience even as they said a winner might not be known for days.
3:52 p.m. - Downtown demonstrators demand that each vote be counted
Protesters are gathering this hour at the City-County building in downtown Pittsburgh to demand that every vote in Pennsylvania be counted. President Trump declared victory early this morning with millions of votes in multiple states uncounted. State officials have directed elections offices across the Commonwealth to count every vote and have asked for the public to remain patient. Counting ballots in Pennsylvania is expected to continue beyond Friday.
I’m Downtown at the City-County building where a rally is getting underway. Folks here are demanding every ballot is counted as all eyes are fixed on Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes. The Trump campaign says it’s suing to stop the vote count in Pennsylvania. @905wesa pic.twitter.com/P3cxTdxFrt
— Kiley Koscinski (@kileykoscinski) November 4, 2020
3:37 p.m. - Trump campaign wants to stop vote count in Pa.
President Donald Trump’s campaign says it’s suing to temporarily stop the vote count in Pennsylvania, claiming lack of “transparency.”
Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement Wednesday that the campaign is “suing to stop Democrat election officials from hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers.” He said the campaign wants “to temporarily halt counting until there is meaningful transparency and Republicans can ensure all counting is done above board and by the law.”
Clark also said the campaign would seek to intervene in an ongoing Supreme Court case involving the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots.
There have been no reports of fraud or any type of ballot concerns out of Pennsylvania. The state had more than 3.1 million mail-in ballots that take time to count, and an order allows them to be counted up until Friday if they are postmarked by Nov. 3.
The Associated Press has not yet called Pennsylvania. Democrat Joe Biden currently has 248 electoral votes, while Trump has 214. It takes 270 to win the presidency.
3:22 p.m. - Tuesday's election results are trickling in
In Allegheny County, officials have reported just a fraction of the county's remaining 173,000 mail-in ballots today. A spokesperson says ballot scanners are jamming, which is forcing workers to scan ballots in smaller batches.
Officials say they’ll work until all mail-in ballots are counted. But results will still be incomplete: The county won't begin to address provisional ballots and thousands of reissued ballots until later this week.
3:09 p.m. - Pennsylvania remains among the few states still counting votes
The Associated Press considers the race here too close to call.
Data from the Department of State shows more than half of the commonwealth's two and a half million mail-in ballots have been counted.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar says she expects counting will continue through Friday, the deadline for non-military mail-in ballots to be received at county election offices.
Gov. Tom Wolf is among the officials urging Pennsylvanians to be patient.
"The promise of democracy is that every vote counts, and that has been the promise of democracy since 1787 and it's still the promise of democracy, and I intend here in Pennsylvania to make sure we keep that promise,” Wolf said.
The question of whether and how counties should count late-arriving ballots remains a central issue.
Senate GOP leadership is calling on Boockvar to resign over the matter, saying she improperly told counties to separate but also count those ballots.
The Wolf administration is dismissing that call as a "partisan attack."
2:45 p.m. - Trump campaign to hold press conference in Philly
The Trump campaign plans a press conference in Philadelphia for 3:30 p.m., to be attended by Eric and Lara Trump, campaign advisor Corey Lewandowski, and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The campaign did not specify what the press conference would address, but it has already announced plans to seek a recount of the vote in Wisconsin and to file a lawsuit seeking greater access to vote-counting locationsin Michigan. The three Rust Belt states are crucial to the election's outcome: Biden appears to have narrow leads in the first two states, and counting of mail-in ballots is still underway in Pennsylvania.
1:55 p.m. - Allegheny County ballot counting going slowly
Allegheny County election workers continue to winnow their way through a pile of mail-in ballots they left unscanned when they went home Tuesday evening. But the work is proceeding slowly, and a complete reckoning may be days away.
In an early-afternoon statement, the county said it had resumed scanning ballots at around 10:30 a.m. By noon, workers had scanned 15,118 ballots -- less than one-tenth of the 175,417 of what they left in the warehouse (under protection) the night before.
Even when that job is complete, the county's task will not be over. Another 29,000 ballots were sent to voters this fall after they received ballots with races for districts they did not live in. The replacement ballots lacked envelopes with bar codes used to ensure each voter cast a ballot only once. The county must manually reconcile each vote with its voter lists in a separate process later this week.
The county is also unsure of the number of provisional ballots "and will likely not have those numbers for several days." During Election Day, there were anecdotal reports that when voters sought to exchange their mail-in ballots for a ballot at the polls -- a process called "spoiling" -- confused election workers gave them provisional ballots instead.
In the meantime, the county received roughly 500 new ballots in the mail today -- ballots presumably sent prior to polls' closing last night. The state Supreme Court has said such ballots can be accepted through Friday, but the U.S. Supreme Court has indicated it may review that position. The county said it would sequester those votes accordingly.
12:39 p.m. - When will we know the winner in PA?
As of Wednesday morning, the state's vote reporting process was only 64% complete. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar has said the "overwhelming majority" of ballots will be tallied by Friday.
Pennsylvania law requires officials to wait until the morning of Election Day to process mail-in ballots. The state accepts ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 as long as they arrive within three days.
Counties are taking a patchwork approach to counting absentee ballots. Seven said they would not begin processing ballots until Tuesday night or even Wednesday. The secretary of state's office encouraged those counties to move up their timelines.
NPR's Sam Gringlas and Bill Chappel break down what to expect in PA and five other crucial states.
10:37 a.m. - Allegheny County ballot counting process will likely take days
Allegheny County Elections workers are picking up where they left off at 2 a.m. last night. Officials said the count was paused because people had been working for at least 22 hours straight and needed to rest.
The county tabulated about 173,000 of the roughly 348,485 mail-in ballots (this total will grow) last night. Workers will continue with that process today. Officials and the Allegheny County Law Department will also begin reviewing mail-in ballots that were set aside for further inspection. These ballots are separated into categories such as: ballots with no date on the declaration envelope, and markings on the secrecy envelope that indicate party affiliation or candidate preference, according to County Solicitor Andy Szefi.
He said the ballot-counting process is expected to take days.
“We've got a state supreme court decision that says ballots can be received through 5 p.m. Friday and right now that is the law,” he said Wednesday morning. “We have no choice but to honor that law. I know it’s tough for people to wait, people are frustrated by the wait, but that’s currently the situation that we’re in. I would ask that people be patient,” said Szefi.
Provisional ballots, and reissued ballots from the 28,879 voters who received the wrong ballots in October will not be taken up until Friday when the county Review Board begins examining and tabulating ballots.
11:18 a.m. — Rep. Mike Kelly wins another term
The Associated Press has called the 16th congressional district race for incumbent Congressman Mike Kelly, a Republican. Democratic candidate Kristy Gnibus conceded on Wednesday morning.
In a statement, Gnibus congratulated Kelly and said, “Thank you to everyone who joined our grassroots campaign to help make phone calls, knock doors, and get out the vote. While this was not the result we wanted, none of this would have been possible without you. We still have work to do. Our fight is not over."
Gnibus, a high school teacher from Erie, hoped to flip the northwestern Pennsylvania district. Kelly was first elected to Congress in in 2010.
10:41 a.m. – Ballot update
Allegheny County elections director David Voye says the ballot count was paused last night because people had been working for 22 hours straight.
Officials planned to resume counting of mail-in ballots this morning in the 10 a.m. hour.
Important: votes from 28,879 voters who got the wrong ballots won't be tabulated until Friday, since the deadline for mail ballots (must be postmarked by 11/3) is 5pm on Friday. Once that deadline hits, those will begin to be counted. Info on that here: https://t.co/38L7UFB16h
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 4, 2020
7:15 a.m. - Mike Doyle, Guy Reschenthaler re-elected to U.S. House
The Associated Press called the race in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district, with Democrat Mike Doyle winning re-election.
Republican Guy Reschenthaler was also re-elected in Pennsylvania's 14th congressional district.
Tuesday, November 3
2:00 a.m. — Allegheny County hits pause on counting
Around 1:40 a.m., county elections officials announced that they had paused counting for the night and would resume at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
1:05 a.m. — Allegheny County runs into counting delays
The count in Allegheny County temporarily stalled late Tuesday night for several reasons. First, a transmission error with in-person votes occurred, meaning that regional hubs couldn’t send in-person voting data to the central warehouse where results are uploaded. The county fixed this error by pulling voting data and re-uploading it.
The second challenge was with mail-in ballots jamming the scanners. The jams happened more often in the general election than in the primary. That’s because the county sent out ballots earlier this fall and voters sent them back sooner—so those folded ballots had been sitting in envelopes for longer periods of time. The longer the ballots are creased, the harder they are to flatten.
Officials plan to count nonstop until all ballots are tallied.
12:00 a.m. - Ballots are still being counted across Pennsylvania this morning
A record number of Pennsylvanians registered to vote in the general election and many opted to vote by mail. Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar says the state is ready to help elections offices with whatever they need.
"We have our IT team available to the counties 24/7 for the next several days,” Boockvar said. “So we will meet the counties where they are and whatever they need we will have available for them."
Mail-in ballots received through Friday will be counted. More than 9 million Pennsylvanians registered to vote in the general election.
11:41 p.m. - City residents seem to vote in favor of ballot referendum
While many votes still need to be counted, Pittsburgh residents seem to be strongly in favor of a referendum that would give the city's Police Review Board more power when investigating officers. If passed, an officer could potentially face termination for not cooperating in an investigation. Those who oppose the referendum say they will challenge it in court if it passes.
10:54 p.m. - Wolf asks Pennsylvanians to “be patient” about election results
At a press conference this evening Gov. Tom Wolf warned Pennsylvanians that final election results might take longer to confirm than in previous years.
“We may not know the results today,” Wolf said. “But I encourage all of us to take a deep breath and, as I’ve been saying, just be patient. What’s most important is that we have accurate results and that every vote is counted, even if that takes a little longer.”
Meanwhile, Allegheny County Elections Division Manager David Voye says the process of counting ballots is going relatively smoothly in the region’s warehouse. Opening ballot envelopes, however, is going slowly than expected, and workers are having to fix machine jams.
Overall, Voye said the expects a 70-75 percent turnout of registered voters in the county.
10:37 p.m. - Mail ballot counting will continue Wednesday
Despite early optimism that the bulk of mail-in ballots would be counted by 8 p.m., Lancaster County Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said around 38,000 mail-in votes had been counted an hour after polls closed Tuesday, just under 50 percent.
While scanners are working well, scanning 6,000 ballots per hour, the software reading the ballots is moving far slower than expected, making it unlikely for the county to have a clear sense of results until Wednesday.
A small crew will be working through the night at the county convention center to finish counting the remaining roughly 40,000 ballots that were received as of Saturday. A second batch of ballots, received Monday and Tuesday, which D’Agostino estimated between 10,000 and 20,000, will be scanned tomorrow, likely into the afternoon.
D’Agostino said aside from long lines at some polling locations, there were far fewer problems compared to the June primary.
“We are on track for a record,” he said, with voter turnout expected to be as high as 80 percent. “It’s just great to see such passion.” — Rebecca Moss of Spotlight PA
Butler County will likely not report final results until the Monday or Tuesday after Election Day, County Solicitor Wil White said Tuesday night.
The county will give a daily update on the vote count starting Wednesday night, White said. That tally is expected to include all votes cast at precincts on Election Day, along with at least 80% of mail ballots.
White estimated that more than half of provisional ballots filled out at polling sites Tuesday were marked as potential duplicates because voters did not surrender a ballot at the polls.
The county will not be able to start counting those ballots until after 5 p.m. Friday, in case mail ballots also submitted by those voters arrive within the three-day window after Election Day, White said. — Jamie Martines of Spotlight PA
10:23 p.m. - Allegheny County Republican leader on Election Day observations
WESA’s Chris Potter spoke with Sam DeMarco, chairman of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County
Chris Potter: There’s a lot of talk coming into Election Day about how Donald Trump would, sort of, unleash this army of lawyers to disrupt elections—that there would be poll watchers showing up to disrupt the voting. Was it all just media hype?
Sam DeMarco: I can assure you the lawyers were here because they were in my office for the last few days and they're down at the warehouse watching the free canvasing and canvasing. So the attorneys are here. What’s missing, though, is any drama around the ballots or the way we’re counting them, or anything like that. That’s because Allegheny County is stepping up and running, despite some missteps in the field earlier today, a first class operation. I think it’s one of the best election operations in the state.
Potter: What missteps are you referring to? What did you see out there?
DeMarco: One of the things never to do…when there’s a big presidential election, please do not list your name under the poll watchers certificate as the person to call if there’s any problems. Because the phone started ringing at 6:12 a.m. this morning and … I’m still fielding calls this evening.
But the typical thing that you find here, from an elections perspective, that people don’t show up, they’re late, they say they weren’t trained. … Earlier we had a Judge of Elections in Oakland who had a car stolen last night and her pillbox with everything she needed to start the day. She wasn’t able to start on time.
These things happen. But our folks, they have a bunch of volunteers and they were able to rectify those by mid-morning.
Potter: A lot of people, as you know, have expected the president to challenge the results if they don't go his way here in Pennsylvania, partly because he's tweeted out that he would. Do you think that's likely? And have you seen or heard anything at this point that would make you question the results and the accuracy of the count here in Pennsylvania?
DeMarco: I've been tied up the entire day and I'm focused on Allegheny County. So, I haven't seen anything that would cause him to challenge the results in Allegheny County. But I can't speak for the rest of the state. You know, I saw reports on social media earlier that you had poll watchers that weren't a lot of access in Philadelphia. You know, so there are a lot of things out there. I don't know. But hopefully it won't come down to that, that the president will win reelection and do so handily.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
10:00 p.m. - Republicans seek to sideline Pa. mail ballots that some voters were allowed to fix
Inside the spacious exhibition center at the York Fairgrounds, dozens of county employees on Tuesday sorted through thousands of mail ballots in the lead-up to the close of polls.
If they came across “naked ballots,” or ballots that lacked a secrecy envelope, they alerted the political parties. The parties could then contact voters, tell them there was a problem, and urge them to fix it.
But in neighboring Dauphin and Lancaster Counties, voters who mailed in naked ballots, or made some other mistake, will never get the chance to fix them, because officials there believe the law does not allow them to do anything but reject ballots that contain mistakes.
As Pennsylvania’s 67 counties began the painstaking process of processing and counting more than 2.5 million mailed ballots, whether or not voters were given a chance to fix errors and ensure their votes were counted depended largely on where they lived.
That inconsistency is now at the heart of an eleventh-hour lawsuit filed Tuesday by a group of Republican candidates and voters seeking for counties to set aside any ballots that voters were allowed to fix.
9:53- Allegheny County reports more than 111,000 mail-in and absentee ballots have been scanned
The numbers will continue to go up as ballots from today are added.
The county also says that some outlets were incorrectly reporting the number of votes for President Donald Trump due to a typo that was "not an error on the county's side." They say they are trying to reach the source company to correct the data.
"This is not an error on the county’s side. We are trying to reach the source company to ask for them to correct the data."
— Ariel Worthy (@airreeulll) November 4, 2020
9:50 p.m. - State officials urge Pennsylvanians to remain patient
Counties, the officials say, are still counting ballots and voters likely won’t see final results tonight. Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar says officials did not receive reports of any major issues at polling locations today. The state's voter services hotline took more than 5,000 calls from voters, but Boockvar says most questions were pretty typical.
“There were mostly standard issues,” Boockvar said. “So a handful of counties reported late opening polling places which happens every election. There were lines at some polls."
More than 2.5 million mail-in ballots were recorded as of 9 p.m. That's about 83 percent of the ballots that were sent out. That number is expected to climb as counties begin counting mail-in ballots returned today.
9:42 p.m. - Pitt professor on grassroots movements and the election
WESA’s Chris Potter spoke with University of Pittsburgh professor Laura Putnam
Chris Potter: You have been working for the last few years studying the grassroots political movement that sprang up, especially in the suburbs after Donald Trump was elected. What was the attitude of those activists going into Election Day to day and what have you been hearing from them as things have played out?
Lara Putnam: Everyone on the left and these activists, like so many Democratic voters, were really anxious going in to today.
Southwestern Pennsylvania has some turned into like the epicenter of this presidential election, with the multiple visits from Trump and surrogates. Biden was here last night.
So people feel a lot of responsibility. They have been working very hard both on the presidential election, but also on other down ballot races, including congressional races and state Senate and state House races. And that's probably one of the biggest changes that we've seen if we compare 2016 to 2020---there was a Hillary Clinton ground game in this area. There was a campaign, but it didn't have anything like the intensity of dedicated local supporters. And then for sure, down ballot campaigns in Allegheny County, outside of the city of Pittsburgh did not have the intensity of attention from local progressive grassroots that they've had for the last two years.
Potter: This election was defined by two big things, at least in Pennsylvania: the coronavirus, which affected everywhere; and then also the sudden onset of mail-in balloting, which we've never seen to the extent that we've seen it here. How has that affected the work that grassroots activists have been doing and the conduct of this of this election going into today?
Putnam: I would say it's really been the election's been defined by three things, Chris: the two that you mentioned, plus the advent of mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania as it played out, can't be separated from the fact that the president and the state GOP chose to politicize the use of mail in balloting from the get-go.
That's why we thought such a there's been a really tight partisan tilt to the uptake of mail-in balloting within Pennsylvania. So here it has only existed in the context of this deep politicization. And that has meant that the great majority of Republican voters or Trump supporters within the state of Pennsylvania didn't choose to make use of mail in ballots. It would be a healthier for American democracy if the rules were clear and respected.
Potter: What happens to this movement after we know who our next president is going to be?
Putnam: One of the things which is striking about this grassroots movement is questions of ballot access, questions of voting rights, gerrymandering, sort of the nuts and bolts of procedural democracy. I think that we're going to see people making all of those things a priority for their activism, really, regardless of who's in the White House.
9:18 p.m. - Pennsylvania emerges as online misinformation hotspot
Pennsylvania has emerged as a hotspot for online misinformation on Election Day, with Facebook and Twitter trying to quickly take down false posts about voting in the state so they don’t confuse voters or stoke doubts about the integrity of the election.
Misleading claims have spread for hours on social media about polling machine outages in Scranton and a poll worker destroying ballots cast for President Donald Trump. Misinformation experts say misleading videos, posts and photos from the battleground state are lighting up social media.
9:09 p.m. - County election official “very happy so far,” despite few hiccups
David Voye, manager of the Allegheny County Elections Division, said during a Tuesday evening press conference that most of the issues related to the voting process were relatively minor. That’s despite implementing new voting equipment, the coronavirus pandemic and nearly half of all poll workers taking on the job for the first time.
Three polling locations were delayed, he said, including one where the Judge of Elections’ car was stolen.
“We did have some other hiccups, machines not starting where the board's having trouble, started the machines, but we were able to send our folks out here are these problems,” Voye said. “We also heard that we had done some lines in some locations, but from all accounts, some these lines were subsided by afternoon and voting was going very smoothly.”
A handful of poll workers were removed from their locations due to different issues, he said. There were also some issues with machine malfunctions.
Now, election workers will begin scanning and tabulating ballots from voters. The county has more than 160 staffers working on counting ballots.
Pennsylvania officials are holding a press conference right now. @GovernorTomWolf urges Pennsylvanians to remain patient and not to expect final results this evening. He notes the importance of accurate results, which could take some time. @905wesa pic.twitter.com/ZNLayFiWyV
— Kiley Koscinski (@kileykoscinski) November 4, 2020
8:42 p.m. – Early vote tabulation update in Allegheny County
About 80,000 votes have been reported in Allegheny County so far, as officials scan and tabulate mail-in ballots. Very early results show Democrats leading. That trend is not surprising as more Democrats requested mail-in ballots this year, while Republicans preferred to vote in person.
As of 8 p.m. the county had received 347,670 mail-in and absentee ballots. That number is expected to grow in the coming days as ballots postmarked on or before Election Day can be counted, as long as the county receives them by 5 p.m. on Friday.
8:31 p.m. - Update from Chris Potter, WESA government and accountability editor, after polls close
On the voting process:
I mean, it's normal to have some abnormalities, right? This is a very busy election with a lot of turnout.
There are always some issues on Election Day. There are a lot of moving parts—there are 1,300 voting places here in Allegheny County alone. And, as a result, things happen. There have been some disputation, some arguments at polling places, things like that.
A Judge of Elections had his car stolen in the city of Pittsburgh earlier today. That delayed the opening of a polling place.
But for the most part, I think the big picture here is that things mostly went all right. A lot of people, I think, were afraid. There were articles about poll watchers and how … President Trump [was] calling for an army of poll watchers to come out and scrutinize the polls and, people thought, disrupt voting.
None of that happened today, at least not in western Pennsylvania. And I really haven't heard anything about it from the rest of the state either. So this is a big, busy election with a lot at stake and yet, things went fairly smoothly.
The only real persistent problem I've heard about was people who had gotten mail in ballots and decided they'd rather vote in-person and then poll workers not really quite knowing what to do in that situation, because this is new for all of us. This year is the first we've really had these kinds of mail in ballots in such numbers for sure. And yet even there, I think things by a large have gone very smoothly tonight.
On what specific races his team will be monitoring:
Obviously the presidential race. But because that's a statewide thing, it's so hard to know where we'll stand.
Locally, in Allegheny County, I'll be looking at some suburban legislative races. [I'll be watching] the state Senate District 37, this is Democrat Pam Iovino, who won this seat in a special election in 2019. It's a race that includes the South Hills of Pittsburgh, the airport area suburbs. These are crucial for a, of course, Democrats who hope to defend the seat and even make some inroads in the state Senate. But also, these are the kinds of college educated suburbs where Democrats as a whole--across the state and across the country--have to do well if they're going to be able to beat Donald Trump.
A few other suburban districts are the 20th House District formerly held by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai. [There’s] a spirited race there between Republican Rob Mercuri and Emily's Skopov, the Democrat.
I’m focusing on [them] because they're competitive and because they will sort of speak to a broader political dynamic potentially that will affect this whole race.
*This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
8:02 p.m. – Quick explainer on the “barcode-less ballots”
An update on those 20,000 barcode-less ballots mentioned earlier—these were ballots that the county reissued to voters who either never received their mail-in ballot or requested a new one because they made an error while filling it out. Per an Allegheny County spokesperson, these ballots will be manually checked-in; if a voter has already returned their original barcoded ballot, the barcode-less ballot will be rejected.
7:56 p.m. - County to begin reporting at 8 p.m.
Allegheny County will be reporting the first round of mail-in ballot results starting at 8 pm. First batch will be approx 65,000 ballots.
As of 7pm 82,716 had been scanned, but officials will be uploading a smaller portion to get results up more quickly.
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 4, 2020
7:35 p.m. - Long delays reported at York County polling place
At Northeastern Middle School in East Manchester Township, Jim Smith said he waited more than four hours to vote. Denise Slick, meanwhile, arrived to vote at 4 p.m. She was still waiting as of 7:30 p.m. — Ed Mahon of Spotlight PA
7:15 p.m. Allegheny County up to 82K scanned ballots
According to an Allegheny County spokesperson, the county has scanned 82,716 ballots as of 6:40 p.m., and “in the next hour or two, the vast majority of the ballots will have had the secrecy envelopes separated from the declaration envelopes with only the final set of ballots needing to go through the process.” In addition, around 20,000 ballots without bar codes were being manually entered and checked-in.
Mail-in ballots that were returned to the County Office Building today will be transported to the warehouse after polls close.
More than 160 staffers are working on the scanning; a third shift of employees is coming in for relief at 11 p.m.
7:00 p.m. — One hour until polls close
Pennsylvania polls remain open until 8 p.m., so if you haven’t already voted in person—or dropped off your mail-in ballot—do so immediately.
NPR and WESA’s special election broadcast coverage also starts at 7 p.m., so tune in at 90.5 WESA or stream at wesa.fm.
6:23 p.m. - Officials expect Butler County to ‘shatter’ turnout records
Long — but steadily moving — lines were the norm across Butler County, where average wait times were 50 minutes to an hour at the county’s 89 polling places.
“We’re very impressed with voter turnout in District 10,” said Liam Watters, field director for Democrat Kolbe Cole’s campaign to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Aaron Bernstein in the state House.
Butler County election officials confirmed that as of 3:45 p.m., 31,191 of the 38,795 ballots that were mailed to voters had been returned. Based on mail ballot counts and the length of lines at the polls, officials are confident that the county will “shatter” voter records.
Of the 143,049 registered voters in Butler County, 43,548 are registered Democrats and 79,480 are Republicans.
Trish Lindsay, vice-chair of the Butler County Republican Committee, said she had seen high turnout at polling places but was not aware of any major issues. Her main concern was confusion over what to do with mail ballots that voters bring with them to the polls, hoping instead to vote in person at their polling place.
“All we want to do is have every vote count,” Lindsay said.
Similar issues were reported to the Cole campaign, Watters said.
In a statement, Butler County election officials said that they did not receive calls about voters who were turned away over mail ballots. They did receive reports of voters who tried to vote at the wrong polling place, along with a shortage of supplies like ballots and pens used to hand-mark ballots that had to be replenished throughout the day.
Pennsylvania voters can bring their mail ballot materials with them to polling places to be voided. Once they surrender those ballots, they may vote in person with a regular ballot. They do not need to use a provisional ballot.
A similar problem arose in Westmoreland County on Tuesday morning, where some judges of election turned away voters who showed up at the polls with their mail ballots, the Tribune-Review reported.
Judges of election in the county were reminded of the correct process for handling surrendered mail ballots, Westmoreland County Commissioner Sean Kertes told the Tribune-Review after a reporter followed up on reports of voters who were turned away. — Jamie Martines of Spotlight PA
6:00 p.m. – Afternoon update from Chris Potter, WESA government and accountability editor
There's always some Election Day drama. In Allegheny County, a judge of elections had his car stolen this morning, with some election equipment – but no ballots – inside. The car and its contents have been recovered.
A poll worker in north Oakland, meanwhile, was suspended after allegedly using her phone to photograph activity inside. She has since been reinstated. The county says two Pittsburgh poll workers were removed for fighting: Two poll watchers in Penn Hills were removed for alleged intimidation, though they denied doing anything wrong.
Statewide, voting-rights groups say there has been some confusion when voters seek to exchange their mail-in ballots so they can vote in-person instead. And some voters have reported concern about constables -- who keep order at the polls -- being heavily armed. But activists say things are mostly going well. At least so far -- the polls close at 8 p.m.
5:27 p.m. – Nearly 60,000 ballots counted in Allegheny County
According to the county, as of 4:45 p.m., 59,799 ballots were counted. A few polling places did not have voters sign the poll book, but officials say they do not need to return. The numbered list of voters will be used to remedy the issue.
"Two poll workers at Pittsburgh 15-1, 15-2, 15-3 location removed for fighting; unclear if verbal or physical. Both left before deputies arrived and the other left willingly."
And there was a court order for two poll watchers to be removed from Penn Hills 02-03 and 02-04 for
— Ariel Worthy (@airreeulll) November 3, 2020
4:35 p.m. – Officials say most calls to voter-protection hotline relate to confusion over new rules
Election Day is more than half over, and voting-rights activists are not reporting many of the concerns they feared about disruptions at the polls. During a 4 p.m. press call, Susan Almeida of Common Cause Pennsylvania said that while there was an "incredibly high call volume" to a voter-protection hotline, many of the calls reflected simple confusion over new voting rules.
In particular, Almeida said, some poll workers were struggling to handle voters who had requested mail-in ballots, but decided to vote in-person instead. Doing so requires a voter to surrender the ballot and its two return envelopes, and then request an in-person ballot. But the process is new to voters and poll workers alike, she said. "We had seen this one coming."
Almeida said another source of concern was "the number of reports we are getting about heavily armed constables" at polling places. Constables are permitted at polling places, where they are intended to keep order. But Almeida said, "We have heard a number of reports from voters who feel threatened or intimidated."
Still, she said, for the most part, "We are having a relatively typical, relatively smooth Election Day in Pennsylvania."
4:19 p.m. - Lancaster County delays counting mail-in ballots
Lancaster County plans to hold off on counting mailed ballots that arrive between tomorrow and Friday in anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether those votes should be counted
The county elections office says it's received around 70,000 mail-in ballots, and expects a few thousand more will arrive by the deadline Friday.
County commissioner Ray D'Agostino says the Department of State told poll workers to count those ballots when they arrive, then separate them from on-time ballots.
"Problem is, if you do that, if the Supreme Court does rule and says 'Hey, they shouldn't be counted," it's kind of hard to retract them once you've already counted them,” D’Agostino said. “So, we're basically prioritizing other ballots first and just waiting for a ruling. And if a ruling doesn't come, then we'll count them."
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar has advised counties to count ballots postmarked by Election Day right away.
D'Agostino says more than 150 workers have been processing and counting mail-in ballots that have already arrived.
The commissioner says ballots that arrive by Friday will be counted within eight days if the Supreme Court does not intervene.
3:55 p.m. - Some voters confused by polling location changes
Voting in Allegheny County so far has gone smoothly in general. But some voters say they were confused by changes in polling places since the primary.
Michael Davis came to vote this morning at the Penn Hills Library. He left without casting a ballot, he says.
“Actually, this is the wrong place! A few months ago they changed everything to here, so I figured they were still here,” Davis said. “Then they tell me I got to go back to my regular place now. It’s not far, it’s right down the street.”
Polling places that were consolidated by the county in June because of the coronavirus pandemic were restored for today’s general election. Voters attending at least one polling place in Homewood reported similar confusion.
But a county spokesperson said they’d received no complaints about the issue, and added that all voters who intended to cast ballots in person had been sent mailings advising them of their correct polling places.
3:39 p.m. - More than 40,000 ballots scanned
As of 3 p.m., Allegheny County reported having scanned 43,894 ballots as its first shift of workers went home. A second shift, numbering some 200 employees, is taking over the processing of mailed-in ballots at its North Side warehouse.
The county also offered new details about the late opening of a polling place in Pittsburgh's 5th Ward warehouse. Per a county statement, the vehicle of the Judge of Elections was stolen, with a suitcase containing the location's poll book, the keys needed to open the ballot scanner and other paperwork and materials. No ballots were inside the car, which the county says has been recovered along with its contents. Four of five individuals who were in the car are in custody. The county says all four are juveniles.
The county also reported the removal of a poll worker from a location on Ellsworth Avenue in Pittsburgh. The worker was reported to be "causing a disturbance, taking pictures and video of poling place activities, and looking at voters’ ballots prior to those being scanned."
2:44 p.m. - More than 25,000 Allegheny Co. ballots scanned
It took about four hours for Allegheny County election workers to scan the first 9,000 ballots today, but the pace has picked up since then: As of 1 p.m., the county reported having 25,583 ballots scanned. Meanwhile, the work of processing new ballots continues: More than 30 county workers are still processing ballots received late Monday and on Election Day itself. The county already had more than 334,000 completed ballots on hand as of Monday.
Election officials also reported that while some polling places still had lines, "most appear to be moving smoothly at this time." There had been reports of arguments as well as "complaints of individuals not wearing masks [and] requests to increase physical distancing," but while he county has had workers roving the polls to ensure distancing, "There has been no need to take any actions relative to arguments."
2:28 p.m. - Oakland voting goes smoothly despite early hiccup
Lines formed almost immediately this morning in Oakland, Pittsburgh’s university district, and students made up the bulk of those waiting. But the process has moved smoothly so far, and there appears to be little sign of a reprise of 2004 – when Republican lawyers challenged the credentials of many of the students who came to the polls the last time a Republican president was up for re-election.
Ricardo Worthy and Janice Meyers have been on the scene since before 7 a.m. just in case of disruption. Trained by Pittsburgh activist group 1Hood, they’ve been trained on “how to respond to threats. We want to make sure the climate is right,” as Meyers said.
So far, the only disruption has stemmed from the fact that a polling place housed inside the William Pitt Student Union opened roughly half an hour late, but the two activists said the disruption was minor.
“Nothing as small or as simple as a delay in the start of the election process would be enough to deter any civic minded, socially conscious, responsible person,” Meyers said.
The two said they were hoping – and expecting – that things would remain quiet.
“Both sides should be able to exercise their right for the First Amendment,” said Worthy. But as for violence or physical confrontations? “The expectation is not that and especially here in Allegheny County [we] would definitely not expect that.”
1:42 p.m. - Mid-day check-in
Some of Allegheny County’s longest voting lines – with waits as long as two hours at their peak, and still as much as an hour by mid-day – have been reported at North Fayette’s West Ridge Church polling place. The district went for President Trump in 2016, and this year he was drawing supporters like restaurant owner Danielle Schrecengost, a first-time voter at age 31.
“As long as everything gets done and they can count everything accordingly, I’m fine with waiting in line,” Schrecngost said. She said she’d come out to vote in person because of things she had seen in news reports and on social media about problems with mail-in voting. “I was seeing a lot of things getting reported saying they were finding (ballots) on the sides of the road, so I just wanted to cast my vote in person to make sure it got counted.”
Still she said that didn’t expect to hear results for “a couple days for sure — I don’t expect to hear anything tonight.”
Others in line also said they were willing to be patient about getting results – not surprisingly, perhaps, since they’d already been willing to stand for an hour or more.
Courtney Bateman, 33, said she voted in person because it was more “traditional,” but added, “I think we won’t have clear answer for at least five days.”
Bryan Vance, a retired police officer, came to the polls with his wife Lisa. He said he didn’t trust mail in balloting – “we feel to get our vote to count, we had to show up in person” – and that he was “concerned” about the final count.
“All we can do is pray is everything is done efficiently and done correctly and done fairly, whichever way it turns out,” he said. “All we want is for our vote to be counted.”
11:55 a.m. - Allegheny Co. has scanned 9K ballots
As of 11 a.m., Allegheny County reported that it had scanned 9,000 mail-in ballots. Based on performance in the June primary, the scanning process will accelerate as the day goes on, since scanning can't begin until envelopes are opened and ballots smoothed out for scanning.
Both locally and statewide, the voting process appears to be going smoothly. During a mid-morning press call by voting-rights activists, Common Cause Pennsylvania interim executive director Suzanne Almeida said, "We are having what is almost a regular election day in Pennsylvania thus far." While activists had established a "voter guardian" program to de-escalate conflict of polling places, Almeida said, “We have not seen anything significant when it comes to voter intimidation or harassment. … We aren’t seeing the kind of concerns that we may have had in the run up to today.”
Still, Almeida noted that their voter-protection hotline had received 2,000 calls from white voters and 1,600 from Black voters -- a disproportionately large number. And she noted that it was early in the day: "Please don't take this as gospel for the rest of the day, but right now it's looking pretty good."
Almeida also said there was an "emerging trend of people looking to spoil their [mail-in] ballot by voting in person" -- a step some voters have taken to speed the counting of their ballot. "Spoiling" a ballot entails bringing it to the voter's polling place with the envelopes it is to be returned in and exchanging the mail-in ballot for an in-person ballot, along with a signed declaration of intent. (Voters who signed up for mail-in ballots but who can't surrender the mail-in materials must vote provisionally.) There are anecdotal reports of voters in some locations doing this often enough to require polling places to obtain additional declaration forms.
11:51 a.m. — Confirm your polling place—it might be different than the primary!
Before heading out to vote, be sure to look up your polling place at Pennsylvania’s Department of State website. (You should have also received a letter in the mail with your polling place.)
In Allegheny County, there are more than 1,300 polling places for the general election. That’s very different than the June primary, when the county consolidated polling places due to pandemic concerns.
According to the ACLU Election Protection Coalition volunteer Jim Griffin, Homewood voters havebeen showing up to Faison K-5 school—one of the consolidated voting locations in June—instead of their proper polling site for today’s vote. All voters were directed to the new location.
10:58 a.m. - What's happening to your ballot
Reporter Lucy Perkins explains what's happening in the Allegheny County elections warehouse:
2. The declaration envelopes are set aside and saved (required by state law). Ballots are then sent to another letter opener that removes the secrecy envelope. 2/
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 3, 2020
4. Trays of flattened ballots are taken to scanners and are scanned. The scanners are not connected to the internet. Encrypted memory sticks (yes there are several backups if these fail) are set aside and results will begin to be uploaded at 8pm when polls close. /4
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 3, 2020
10:03 a.m. - Few reports of trouble at polling locations so far
As Election Day enters its third hour, there are few signs of disruption in western Pennsylvania. Shortly before 10 a.m. Allegheny County reported that it would begin scanning the over 300,000 mail in ballots it received prior to election day. Roughly 80 percent of those ballots had begun being extracted from their envelops and were being prepared for scanning.
Three polling places -- in McKeesport, Monroeville, and Pittsburgh -- which had been closed early in the day are now open, the county said. There have been scattered reports of voting machines failing to operate, but the county said they had been addressed and blamed operating error for most of them. A WESA reporter at Elections Court Downtown says there have been no issues requiring court intervention so far.
8:11 a.m. - Long lines at polls early in the day
Polls opened at 7 a.m. and long lines were reported across the region. In an Oakland polling place on Semple Street, for example, the line stretched more than a block, with scores of college-age voters. That could be a promising sign for Democrats, who poll well among younger voters. Unusually long lines have been reported across the city of Pittsburgh and in outlying areas.
Here is a pic https://t.co/u4aY7pAScx
— Chris Potter (@CPotterPgh) November 3, 2020
In a statement, the county said that workers at its North Side warehouse were set to begin the process of "pre-canvassing" of mailed-in ballots. Ballots will be removed from their envelopes and uncreased to prepare them for rapid scanning. Counting will begin later in the day, though vote totals will not be released until after the polls closed.
"We have had a few reports, as we do each year, of polling places that will be opening a few minutes late as poll workers set up equipment, or because someone was late," said a county spokeswoman in the statement.
7:18 a.m. - Polls are open
The 2020 presidential election is here. Here's a quick breakdown as election day gets underway:
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Allegheny County.
Check out where your polling place is by typing in your address here.
You can also view your sample ballot online here.
Monday, November 2
5:45 p.m. - Joe Biden stumps in Homewood
Former Vice President and Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is stumping in Homewood this hour. He's expected to have a speech later with artist Lady Gaga later in Pittsburgh. WESA's Lucy Perkins is there.
Biden is in Homewood. pic.twitter.com/dGrA2yE4XA
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 2, 2020
5:39 p.m. - How to get to the polls on Election Day
Community groups help voters with transportation barriers every election, but this year’s effort will look a little different. Groups like Voter Empowerment Education Enrichment Movement Pittsburgh are organizing free rides for Pittsburgh voters with the pandemic in mind.
According Maryn Formley, executive chair and founder of VEEM Pittsburgh, rides organized through her organization will include several precautions to mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Riders and drivers must wear masks, riders will sit in the back seat only, and wipes and hand sanitizer will be available. Formley said drivers can also pick up Plexiglas shields for their vehicles through VEEM Pittsburgh and have their car cleaned between rides.
Other groups like the Black Political Empowerment Project, SD Transit and the NAACP of Washington County will also help voters get to the polls Tuesday. For Mon Valley residents, Take Action Mon Valley is organizing free rides.
Ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft are offering discounted rides.
• VEEM Pittsburgh: call 412-242-1998
• B-PEP: call 412-434-0919
• Take Action Mon Valley: call 412-440-8268
• NAACP Washington County: call 724-222-7820
• SD Transit (must schedule Monday): call 412-242-1998 ext. 203 or 204
• Uber: $7 off each ride for a maximum of two rides will be applied when a user request their ride using Uber’s polling finder
• Lyft: use code 2020VOTE to take 50 percent off (up to $10) one ride
4:30 p.m. — Activists prepare for potential intimidation of Black voters on Tuesday
Black voting rights activists in western Pennsylvania have assembled a support team to address instances of voter intimidation at the polls on Tuesday, though it's unclear if those worries will be realized.
“I don't feel any overwhelming sense that these things may arise,” said Dewitt Walton, an Allegheny County Councilor and coordinator for PA Black Votes Matter. Walton said there were already some potential red flags about possible Election Day intimidation, particularly in Greene and Cambria counties. But he didn't want to discuss specifics.
“There are areas that raise some internal concern that I won’t identify at this particular juncture. However, we want to be positioned that if there are reports of untoward [incidents], we’ll be ready.”
Walton said voter intimidation is nothing new for the Black community, but activists will be prepared in case something happens during this particularly divisive election year.
Intimidation tactics “have been part of our concerns for decades,” he said. “Voter suppression has been a part of the playbook in one shape, form or manner for a number of years.”
Intimidation is any activity that threatens, harasses or intimidates voters and can include shouting, or interfering with access to polling places, among other behavior.
3:30 p.m. - State officials haven't seen unusual number of requests for poll watchers
The Trump campaign said earlier this fall that it was amassing an army of poll watchers to observe the election in Pennsylvania. But so far, state officials say they haven't seen an unusual number of requests. A spokesperson for Allegheny County said they've issued about 22,000 certificates as of last Friday, which is slightly lower than past presidential elections.
Candidates and parties can request to have poll watchers inside the polls on election day to observe the voting process. Poll watchers can go to multiple voting locations as long as their candidate is on the ballot. Only one poll watcher per candidate is allowed at a polling place, and poll watchers must have official certificates issued by the county in order to observe.
State and county officials are requiring all poll watchers to wear masks, because they will likely be inside polling places for extended periods of time.
1:04 p.m. - How to vote safely in-person
There are more than 900,000 registered voters in Allegheny County, and despite the pandemic many will make their way to the polls tomorrow.
The county's top public health official has assured people that it’s safe to vote in-person. But any activity outside the home incurs some level of risk from the coronavirus.
11:38 a.m. — Mail-In Ballots Returned Nears 80% in PA
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, more than 2.4 million mail-in ballots have been returned in Pennsylvania, while roughly 683,000 have yet to be returned. That’s a return rate of 78 percent.
18,952 more mail-in ballots were returned over the weekend in Allegheny County, so about 81% of ballots have been returned. 78,713 still out there.
— Lucy Perkins (@lucyeperk) November 2, 2020
In Allegheny County, around 81 percent of ballots have been returned, including nearly 19,000 over the weekend.
If you’re a registered voter in Allegheny County and haven’t yet returned your mail-in ballot, you can do so at the County Office Building (542 Forbes Ave.) until 8 p.m. today. You can also drop it off tomorrow there, on Election Day, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
8:01 a.m. - Biden to appear with Lady Gaga Monday
President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden have one last chance to make their case to voters in critical battleground states. Trump's final day has him sprinting through rallies in four states, from North Carolina to Wisconsin. Biden, meanwhile, was devoting most of his time to Pennsylvania. Biden will appear at a "drive-in event in Pittsburgh alongside award-winning musician and actress Lady Gaga," reports the Post-Gazette.