President Donald Trump took to Twitter this morning to complain about lead changes in the election caused by overnight counting of ballots.
He said his leads started to “magically disappear” because “surprise ballot dumps were counted.” He then said it was “VERY STRANGE.”
But there isn’t anything magical, surprising, or strange about the way the ballots have been counted so far. Officials have warned for some time that it would take time to count all the ballots, and it was predicted partisan differences in mail-in voting and Election Day voting would create wide swings.
Has Trump lost his lead in several swing states because of surprise ballot dumps?
No, there is no evidence that anything illegitimate has happened in the counting process so far. In fact, officials have warned we wouldn’t know the final results on election night.
WHAT WE FOUND
The vote counting was never expected to be finished by election night. This includes in Michigan and Wisconsin, two of the states Trump is referring to in his tweet.
In a Nov. 2 news conference, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said, “We are on track to see double the number of absentee ballots – just over 3 million -submitted before 8pm tomorrow. Based on basic math, we should expect it would take no more than 80 hours to count those ballots, which would take us through Friday.”
In October, Wisconsin Elections released a YouTube video that said, “Accurate election results take time. The numbers you hear on election night aren’t actually official.”
The video went on to say that it may take longer for some counties to count all the ballots than usual. And Benson mentioned it was absentee ballots specifically that would take those extra few days to count.
This is important because live results were expected to shift based on whether a state counted mail-in ballots first, counted mail-in ballots last or counted both mail-ins and Election Day votes at the same time. There’s a separate VERIFY on that from a few days ago.
And that’s what has happened and appears to be currently happening. Early during election night, Biden jumped out to a huge lead in North Carolina as mail-in ballots, which Democrats used more than Republicans, were counted first and then lost his lead as the night went on and in-person Election Day votes, which Republicans used more frequently, were counted.
The swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania didn’t begin processing -- let alone counting -- their mail-in ballots until the day before or the day of Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That means mail-in votes are likely taking much longer to count than the in-person votes, and if the mail-in votes are favoring Democrats in those states then it’s likely the last votes counted in these states have a Democratic lean.
There’s currently no significant evidence that there is anything illegitimate going on in the ballot counting in those states or other states.
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