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It’s very likely we won’t know the outcome of many political races for some time. Here’s why voters should expect delays according to the  Schwab Center for Financial Research. 

S&P 500 futures shaved-off gains to lose 0.25% on the day as of writing. Meanwhile, the US dollar is jumping across the board, as the haven demand has returned amid potentially contested election.

Key quotes

“1. Officials expect more mail-in ballots than ever before. Five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah – already run all-mail elections. Four more states (California, New Jersey, Nevada and Vermont) and Washington DC, are mailing a ballot to every registered voter this year. And 44 states are allowing voters to request a no-excuse absentee ballot or have added ‘fear of COVID-19’ as a legitimate reason to vote by mail. To process mail-in ballots, election officials must open each ballot by hand, remove and unfold the ballot, verify each ballot signature and other details with witnesses from both parties present, and then insert each ballot into a voting machine to be tabulated. This additional processing time, coupled with expected increases in the number of mail-in ballots, could delay the reporting of results.”

“2. The timing for counting ballots varies by state. In four states, ballots must be postmarked the day before election day; in 14 states and Washington DC, ballots must be postmarked by election day itself. In these states, mail-in ballots that arrive at the clerk’s office up to 14 days post-election (depending on state law) must still be counted. In the other 32 states, ballots must be received by election day to be counted. In most states, election officials can begin processing mail-in ballots before election day, either as soon as they come in or on a specific date designated by state or local law. However, 11 states currently don’t allow officials to open ballots until election day itself, which could further draw out results if mail-in ballots pile up in these states.”

“3. Disputed results and potential litigation. Courts have already had to decide a number of cases about the legality of existing voting laws or those that have been newly implemented to, for example, allow more voters access to mail-in ballots. In addition to legal questions about voting rules, there are cases about whether specific ballots – those not sealed in the security envelope required by some states, for example – should be counted.”