Political science professors explain delay in presidential election


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By Ashley Dwy

DeKALBAmidst a very close presidential race, students were able to ask a panel of experts about the nuances of the election – specifically why students do not yet know the winner of the election – at an Election 2020: Ask the NIU Experts event held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday on Microsoft Teams.

Beth Ingram, executive vice president and provost, acted as the moderator at this event and read off the questions students were able to send in before noon on Thursday. Panelists included associate professor April Clark, professor Marc Falkoff, associate professor Robert Jones, Mitch Pickerill, acting chair of the Department of Political Science and professor Scot Schraufnagel. 

A student asked Schraufnagel why a certain number of states are taking so long and still counting their ballots, Schraufnagel said.

There has been a surge in mail-in ballots cast this election because of the pandemic. Democrats are more likely to vote-by-mail in this particular election, Schraufnagel said.

“All of the states are still counting,” Schraufnagel said. “Earlier this afternoon, California counted 74% of their votes. There were 3 million votes outstanding in California. The reason it was called is because Biden has a 4 million vote lead. So, states counting votes this late happens every single election year – it’s just never this close.”

Recounting and slow counting of votes is not unique to the current election. All of the panel members lived through Bush v. Gore, Falkoff said.

Bush v. Gore was the Supreme Court decision that settled the recount of the Florida votes in the 2000 presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

“I think the real point is that Bush v. Gore happened because the dispute and the legal issues were worth pursuing because we were acting within the margin of litigation,” Falkoff said. “There has to be a plausible legal claim in this [2020] election that President Trump and the Trump campaign could bring to the Supreme Court that could actually make a plausible difference in the election.”

It could take days or even more than that to have the results of this election, Clark said.

“The fact that we’re having a slower, more careful counting of votes is a sign of democracy working,” Clark said.