In past years, Bucks County has reported election results in a timely fashion with unofficial counts in by late election day night or extremely early the next morning. This year, that is expected to be different.
Due to the new voting system, the large influx of mail-in ballots, and a judge’s decision to extend the deadline for mail-in ballots until next Tuesday, delays in tabulating the results are anticipated.
While election officials started counting mail-in ballots when the law allowed them at 7 a.m. Tuesday, workers began counting the in-person results just after polls closed at 8 p.m.
Bucks County Chief Clerk Gail Humphery told reporters last week that results “will take much longer than voters are used to.”
The county mailed out 102,000 mail-in ballots in advance of the primary election and had received 70,000 in the days leading up, with more being deposited throughout election day.
To deal with the influx of mail-in ballots, the new system, and running an election during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the county had additional staff working at the Board of Election office to process results. In addition, the county purchased additional scanners to tabulate the paper ballots.
Bucks County won’t be the only one dealing with delayed results. Counties across the state are all expected to face a similar issues due to their large number of mail-in ballots and new voting systems. In Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties, Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive order granting them an extra week to accept mail-in ballots will also add to the delay.
The delay in getting a full picture of the results will be another hurdle for candidates already dealing with the delay of primary election day from late April until Tuesday and trouble caused by COVID-19-related in-person campaigning. When it comes to campaigning and fundraising, campaigns will say that every day counts.