Biden transition barrels forward while Trump administration stalls

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Several state Republican attorneys general plan to back the Pennsylvania state GOP’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court against extending the deadline to receive mail ballots until three days after Election Day, a case in which the Trump campaign has also intervened. 

Mail ballots in the Keystone State have come predominantly from Democrats, and the GOP appeal looks to disqualify some that haven’t yet been included in tallies. If those ballots are disqualified, separate categories of ballots cast in Pennsylvania that have not been counted yet could potentially bring the race close enough to trigger an automatic recount. 

As of Monday afternoon, Mr. Biden is leading Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania by 45,246 votes, a margin of 0.7%. CBS News projected Saturday that he would win the state, clinching the presidency with its 20 electoral votes. Biden was later projected as the winner of Nevada, too, increasing his overall tally to 279, where it currently stands.

The president’s campaign appears to be counting on other ballots to bring the margin to or below a 0.5% difference, which would trigger an automatic statewide recount.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said Thursday that in the three days following the state’s primary, about 60,000 ballots came in, but she did not expect to see that many in the general election. The Pennsylvania Department of State has not released an updated number, but the mail ballots counted so far have come in at a 2.7-to-1 ratio in favor of Democrats over Republicans.

The ballots the Trump campaign is depending on come from three categories: provisional ballots, ballots set aside because they were flagged for various issues, and military and overseas citizens’ ballots. 

There are over 100,000 provisional ballots, but each must be reviewed to determine whether it will count. Some will be rejected because they came from voters who also cast a ballot by mail but worried that it might not arrive on time, so they showed up to vote in person on Election Day. The Pennsylvania State Department has not responded to questions about whether any of these ballots have yet been included in tallies. 

There is also a batch of ballots with various mistakes or issues, and there are no available statewide numbers on these. These ballots are currently set aside for election officials to judge individually. 

And overseas and military ballots will be accepted until Tuesday, with no total yet available. 

Together, these three categories might skew toward Mr. Trump, and could in theory chip away at Mr. Biden’s lead enough to make the ballots received during the three-day extension matter, though it does not seem likely. Even if a recount were triggered, tens of thousands of ballots would have to emerge to erase the margin between the president and Mr. Biden.