Republicans have already set the stage for a lengthy election count. Not only did the Republican National Committee file more than 70 election-related legal challenges in advance of Election Day, but GOP groups are also targeting Democratic strongholds like Philadelphia with lawsuits that specifically seek to make mail-in vote counting more slow and laborious. Why? Because mail-in voting is now heavily dominated by Democratic voters.
At the same time, GOP officials are already hyping the lie that a lengthy vote-counting process automatically equates to fraud.
"There should absolutely be a result no later than the middle of the night, early Wednesday morning," Trump lawyer Christina Bobb told the GOP outlet Right Side Broadcasting Network Monday, while accusing Democrats of going out to "find more ballots" in 2020 (another lie Republicans were never able to prove). But Bobb suggested this year Democrats won't be able to get away with the fraud (they never actually committed) the last cycle. "I think those areas that don't have a result, it's gonna look very suspicious," Bobb added.
And by “suspicious,” Bobb actually means “legal.” Because in most of the jurisdictions and states that won't have election results by the end of the night, election officials are prohibited from starting to open and process mail-in ballots until after the polls close. And once again, that is the handiwork of Republican state lawmakers on the front end, even as GOP operatives cry foul on the back end.
As the Washington Post reported, "Despite having two years to address the underlying causes of slower vote-counting since Trump baselessly cried fraud about “ballot dumps,” Republican-controlled legislatures in key states have taken a pass on allowing counting to start earlier."
GOP tinkering and deliberate inaction will be particularly evident in the Midwestern swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. In Michigan, GOP lawmakers did make one last-minute adjustment intended to streamline the mail-in ballot tallying process somewhat, but it was too late for most jurisdictions to implement.
On top of that, some important House races taking place in California almost surely won't be called until Wednesday, given that state polls close at 11 PM ET. Finally, if Senate control comes down to Georgia, it's quite possible the competitive race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP nominee Herschel Walker could go to a Dec. 6 runoff if neither candidate reaches the 50% threshold.
Add to that mix of complications the fact that many of the most important races will have razor-tight margins with a potentially historic midterm turnout, and we've got a recipe for days or even weeks of uncertainty.
So as NPR warns, "Be patient: This election is probably going to go on a while."
At long last, the 2022 midterms are here! With the battle for the House front and center, we give you a window into the key races on a final pre-election episode of The Downballot. We discuss a wide range of contests that will offer insight into how the night is going, including top GOP pickup opportunities, second-tier Republican targets, and the seats where Democrats are on offense. And with many vote tallies likely to stretch on for some time, we also identify several bellwether races in states that count quickly.