The slow pace of the US election is causing a lot of criticism, but there are a number of reasons why it is taking so long to confirm the result.
Greater participation and measures that American states have taken to protect residents from Covid-19 are several factors that play a role.
The enthusiasm factor
Although the count is not yet complete, U.S. President Donald Trump has slightly exceeded the number of votes he received four years ago – more than 70 million so far, compared to about 63 million in his victorious 2016 run.
Meanwhile, Democrat Joe Biden has received 73.9 million votes, up from the 65.9 Hillary Clinton received.
Overall, around 15 million more voters took part in this year’s US presidential elections than four years ago.
The pandemic factor
Many American states had made it easier for people to vote by mail to prevent long lines of people from building up during the coronavirus pandemic.
States such as Minnesota, North Carolina, and Nevada extended deadlines for receiving ballots.
Nebraska and Iowa joined states sending absentee ballots to every registered voter. New Jersey and California sent ballot papers to every registered voter, whether they requested it or not.
Millions of voters accepted the offer and decided not to vote in person on election day, but by post.
For some states, this means slowing down the tabulation of results, as it often takes longer to process votes received by post than it does at polling stations.
The experience factor
Some states performed much better than others in processing postal ballot papers.
States such as Florida and North Carolina learned from experience and allowed election officials to process postal ballot papers in the weeks leading up to election day.
In Florida, employees can start counting ballots 22 days before an election. In North Carolina, starting five weeks before the election, the district boards insert approved ballots into a voting machine for instant listing on election day.
However, other states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – all with Republican-led legislatures and all swing states – have made a conscious choice to wait so they don’t count a postal vote before election day.
Michigan eventually allowed election officials to process some ballots the day before, but the ballot count had to wait until November 3rd.
The predictability factor
When lawmakers fought over the processing of postal ballot papers, there were warnings of what was to come.
Eugene DiGirolamo, a Republican district commissioner in Bucks County, Pennsylvania – the state’s fourth largest district – said two weeks before polling day, “I think if we can only start on polling day, there will be three. four or five days after the election when we have these things scanned and counted.
“I’m just scared to death that Pennsylvania is going to look really bad, especially when the presidential election is near and they’re waiting for results from the battlefield states like Pennsylvania really is.”