As many as a few hundred thousand military mail-in ballots may be left to count in closely watched battleground states including Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Nevada.
As of Oct. 22, Military.com reported about 48,000 absentee military ballots had already been received, as compared to 33,000 at the same time in 2016. A total of 252,000 absentee ballots were cast by active-duty service members in 2016, and ballots cast in 2020 are expected to exceed that number, likely leaving tens of thousands of service members’ ballots uncounted so far.
In Georgia alone, 17,000 military ballots were received and another 8,000 were expected to be received on Friday, election official Gabriel Sterling said in a press conference.
Military mail-in ballots are still arriving after Election Day and could prove pivotal in deciding the winner of states who were still undecided as of Thursday, citing tens of thousands of votes left to process.
“We won’t know the exact number of ballots outstanding, but past elections show the importance of counting these votes,” Jack Noland, research manager at Count Every Heroes, told The Hill. Count Every Heroes is an organization focused on ensuring military ballots are counted.
Fox News’ election map shows President Donald Trump leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by just over 100,000 votes in Pennsylvania and just over 76,000 votes in North Carolina while trailing Biden by just under 12,000 votes in Nevada.
The outcomes in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada could decide the outcome of 41 electoral college votes out of the 270 threshold needed for either candidate to win the presidency. According to Fox News, Biden is currently projected to hold 264 of the 270 needed electoral votes, while Trump is projected to hold 214 electoral votes.
In Pennsylvania, mailed ballots may arrive for up to three days after Election Day.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week in favor of allowing Pennsylvania and North Carolina, to accept mailed ballots for days after Election Day, so long as they are postmarked in time for the election.
Pennsylvania is allowing mailed ballots for up to three days after the election, provided the ballots are postmarked in time. In the Pennsylvania case, Pennsylvania officials told the court that they had instructed county election officials to segregate ballots arriving after 8 p.m. on Election Day through 5 p.m. three days later.
North Carolina’s legislature originally called for receiving mailed ballots for up to three days after the election, but the state’s board of elections later agreed to receive ballots for an additional six days, allowing for mailed ballots to come in up to nine days after Election Day.
A poll of active military members, conducted by Military Times and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University in July and August, showed military service members favored Biden 41.3 percent support for Biden, 37.4 percent for Trump, 12.8 supporting a third-party candidate and nine percent who said they did not plan on voting altogether. In 2016, the same pollsters recorded 40.5 percent support for Trump, while only 20.6 percent supported then-candidate Hillary Clinton. 34.3 percent of respondents in 2016 said they would support a third party.