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Here’s What You Can Expect to See on Election Night as Early Results Roll In

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  • Election Day is here, and while some states will start reporting results as soon as the first polls close, the public may have to wait days or even weeks for the final results to trickle in from the historic amount of absentee ballots cast.
  • Mail-in votes take longer to count than in-person for a number of reasons, including more thorough verification processes.
  • While some states like Georgia have already started counting the absentee ballots, other key battlegrounds, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, did not start counting until today.

Election Day

For months, election officials and experts have warned that the United States was unlikely to see a clear winner declared on Nov. 3. Now that Election Day is finally here, Americans are wondering when they will know the outcome of this historic and contentious election cycle.

While the final results could take days if not weeks to roll in, experts have laid out predictions of what Americans might see tonight.

What Happens When the Polls Close?

The first polls close on the East Coast at 6 p.m ET, and the last will not shut down until after midnight.

While that means it will be a late night for those on the East Coast, it also means folks on the West Coast will start seeing results coming in as early as 4 p.m. when states start reporting partial returns as soon as polls close.

One important thing to keep in mind here is that these results will not come in all at once, so if you’re looking at those early returns, they will very likely be skewed. That is especially relevant in the context of mail-in ballots.

Absentee ballots simply take longer to count than in-person votes for a number of reasons. Each mail-in ballot has to be opened and its eligibility must be verified. That process takes even longer in states that require more strict verification processes, such as matching a voter’s signature with their records, contacting voters if there are mistakes.

Some states have already begun the process of counting those absentee ballots, but others are required by state law to wait. For example, while key battlegrounds like Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia allow counties to start tabulating their absentee ballots before the election, others like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin do not start counting until Election Day.

What Does That Mean for How Results Come In?

This variance of when absentee ballots are counted in each state has two major implications for election results.

First of all, it means that some swing states may report more complete results earlier on than others depending on when they both start and stop counting mail-in ballots.

Take Georgia, for example: a state that both starts counting absentee ballots as they arrive and stops accepting new ballots after polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day. That means that when Georgia starts publishing its returns, they will include the absentee ballots that have already been counted days and even weeks ago. On top of that, because of their cutoff for new absentee ballots, there will be fewer new ones to tally.

By contrast, Pennsylvania will not start counting absentee ballots until today and will allow those ballots to arrive until Nov. 6  — at least for now, though a Supreme Court ruling could prevent ballots received after Election Day from being counted.

While Americans may expect to see expedited results and complete results in states like Georgia, Pennsylvania might take a while, which brings us to the second major implication: some swing states will likely be called earlier — and possibly much earlier — than others.

One common misconception to note here is that when someone says on election night (or even in the few days that follow) that a state has been “called,” that is not the official result. Instead, it is just a determination made by organizations like the Associated Press based on partial counts, and while those projections are oftentimes correct, they are considered unofficial by election officials.

In fact, the results are usually not made official until weeks after the election when they are certified by election authorities. While we might expect to see some states called today by the AP and others, as The New York Times explains, the big question this year is “whether enough states will have enough of their votes counted on election night for accurate projections. And depending on which states those are, we may not know immediately which candidate has actually reached the 270 votes in the Electoral College to have won the presidency.”

Even though states might be called tonight, it is all about reaching that 270 threshold, and unless a bunch of battlegrounds are called for one candidate very early on, we will be playing the waiting game for at least a few days, if not longer.

Other Obstacles

That process will likely be made even longer by the slew of court battles in battleground states Americans can expect to see in the coming days and weeks. 

President Donald Trump himself has said he will fight voting rules and results all the way to the Supreme Court, and on Sunday, he indicated that he would start that process immediately.

“We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” the president told reporters, specifically implying he would go after Pennsylvania and other swing states  for counting ballots after Election Day.

Notably, Trump has also denied that he would prematurely declare victory, including as recently as today, when he said he would only declare victory “when there is victory, if there is victory.”

Meanwhile, Axios reported this morning that advisers for former Vice President Joe Biden told them that, “if news organizations declare Joe Biden the mathematical president-elect, he plans to address the nation as its new leader, even if President Trump continues to fight in court.”

“So if Biden is declared the winner, he’ll begin forming his government and looking presidential — and won’t yield to doubts Trump might try to sow,” the outlet continued.

Record Turnout

While much is still up in the air, one thing Americans are almost certain to see — and have already seen through early and mail-in voting — records voter turnout.

As of Monday, more than 98 million Americans had cast their ballots, which is roughly 70% of the total voter turnout in 2016. Texas, Hawaii, and Montana surpassed their entire 2016 turnout even before Election Day.

But regardless of these historic numbers, there are still plenty of other states that have seen lower mail-in and early voting relative to total 2016 turnout, which likely means those states will see higher in-person voting Tuesday.

That includes some of the most key battleground states like Pennsylvania, which as of Monday had reached only about 40% of its total 2016 tallies, as well as Ohio and Michigan, with both hit around 60%.

Early this morning, there were already reports of long lines forming before polling places started to open. 

According to AP, these long lines on Election Day are not unusual, and they are not necessarily a sign of voter suppression or technical issues, but rather likely a product of high voter turnout.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NPR)

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Judges Uphold North Carolina’s Congressional Map in Major GOP Win

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The judges agreed that the congressional map was “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting” but said they did not have the power to intervene in legislative matters.


New Maps Upheld

A three-judge panel in North Carolina upheld the state’s new congressional and legislative maps on Tuesday, deciding it did not have the power to respond to arguments that Republicans had illegally gerrymandered it to benefit them.

Voting rights groups and Democrats sued over the new maps, which were drawn by the state’s Republican legislature following the 2020 census.

The maps left Democrats with just three of North Carolina’s 14 congressional seats in a battleground state that is more evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Previously, Democrats held five of the 13 districts the state had before the last census, during which North Carolina was allocated an additional seat.

The challengers argued that the blatantly partisan maps had been drawn in a way that went against longstanding rules, violated the state’s Constitution, and intentionally disenfranchised Black voters.

In their unanimous ruling, the panel — composed of one Democrat and two Republicans — agreed that both the legislative and congressional maps were “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting.”

The judges added that they had “disdain for having to deal with issues that potentially lead to results incompatible with democratic principles and subject our state to ridicule.”

Despite their beliefs, the panel said they did not have a legal basis for intervening in political matters and constraining the legislature. They additionally ruled that the challengers did not prove their claims that the maps were discriminatory based on race.

Notably, the judges also stated that partisan gerrymandering does not actually violate the state’s Constitution. 

The Path Ahead

While the decision marks a setback to the plaintiffs, the groups have already said they will appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The state’s highest court has a slim Democratic majority and has already signaled they may be open to tossing the map.

There are also past precedents for voting maps to be thrown out in North Carolina. The state has an extensive history of legal battles over gerrymandering, and Republican leaders have been forced to redraw maps twice in recent years.

A forthcoming decision is highly anticipated, as North Carolina’s congressional map could play a major role in the control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections if they are as close as expected. 

See what others are saying: (Politico) (The New York Times) (The Wall Street Journal)

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Biden Administration Says Private Insurers Will Have to Cover 8 At-Home Tests a Month

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The policy will apply to all the nearly 150 million Americans who have private insurance.


New At-Home Testing Policy

The Biden administration announced Monday that private health insurers will now be required to pay for up to eight at-home rapid tests per plan member each month.

Under the new policy, starting Saturday, private insurance holders will be able to purchase any at-home test approved by the FDA at a pharmacy or online. They will either not be asked to pay any upfront costs or be reimbursed for their purchase through their provider.

The move is expected to significantly expand access to rapid tests that other countries have been distributing to their citizens free of charge for months. 

According to reports, nearly 150 million Americans — about 45% of the population — have private insurance. 

Each dependent enrolled on the primary insurance holder’s account is counted as a member. That means a family of four enrolled on a single plan would be eligible for 32 free at-home rapid tests a month.

Potential Exemptions

All tests may not be fully covered depending on where they are purchased. 

In order to help offset costs, the Biden administration is incentivizing insurance providers to establish a network of “preferred” pharmacies and stores where people in the plan can get tests without paying out of pocket.

As a result, health plans that do create those networks will only be required to reimburse up to $12 per test if they are purchased out of that network, meaning people could be on the hook for the rest of the cost.

If an insurer does not set up a preferred network, they will have to cover all at-home tests in full regardless of the place of purchase.

During a briefing Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said tests should be “out the door in the coming weeks.”

“The contracts [for testing companies] are structured in a way to require that significant amounts are delivered on an aggressive timeline, the first of which should be arriving early next week,” she added.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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Biden Administration Unveils Plan To Replace All Lead Pipes

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The effort builds on the $15 billion allocated under the bipartisan infrastructure bill for lead pipe replacement, but industry leaders say $60 billion will be needed for nationwide revitalization.


White House Outlines Actions on Lead Pipes and Paint

The Biden administration rolled out a sweeping plan on Thursday to remove all the nation’s lead pipes over the next decade and take other steps to prevent lead paint contamination.

Lead, which was commonly used in piping for municipal water systems all over the country until it was banned in 1978, is a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause serious nervous system damage, especially in children.

Contamination from lead pipes seeping into water supplies has caused multiple high-profile public health and environmental catastrophes over the last decade, including the notorious crisis in Flint, Michigan.

According to a White House factsheet, an estimated 10 million households are connected to water through lead pipes. Children and teenagers in 400,000 schools and child care facilities also risk exposure to lead-contaminated water.

“Because of inequitable infrastructure development and disinvestment, low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to these risks,” the factsheet stated.

To address those disparities and revitalize water systems across the nation, the White House outlined 15 new action items the Biden administration is taking, including:

  • Launching “a new regulatory process to protect communities from lead in drinking water” through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Clarifying that state, local, and Tribal governments can use the $350 billion aid allocated under the American Rescue Plan to replace lead service lines.
  • Establishing federally-operated regional technical assistance hubs “to fast track lead service line removal projects in partnership with labor unions and local water agencies.”
  • Awarding federal grants through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to remove lead paint in low-income communities.
  • Directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand childhood lead testing.
  • Establishing “a new Cabinet Level Partnership for Lead Remediation in Schools and Child Care Centers.”

The White House also said it will direct the EPA to allocate $3 billion for state, local, and Tribal governments to replace lead pipes through funding that was approved under the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden last month.

A Matter of Funding

In total, Congress provided $15 billion to revitalize the nation’s lead-pipe systems under the infrastructure bill. 

However, industry experts have estimated that it will cost $60 billion to entirely overhaul all the remaining lead pipes in the U.S.

As a result, the Biden administration has proposed several additional funding mechanisms in the social safety net package, known as the Build Back Better Act, that is currently being negotiated by Congress.

Specifically, the legislation would set aside $9 billion for lead remediation grants to disadvantaged communities, $1 billion for rural water utilities to remove lead pipes, and $5 billion for mitigation efforts such as removing lead-based water fixtures in low-income households.

The Build Back Better Act would additionally provide $65 billion for public housing agencies and $5 billion for other federally-assisted housing organizations to improve housing quality, including by replacing lead pipes and service lines.

The status of that legislation, as well as what provisions will remain in the final version, remain in limbo. While Democratic leadership has pushed to pass the sweeping social bill before the new year, all 50 of the party’s members in the Senate will need to sign on, and moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) has continued to withhold his support.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Axios) (The Washington Post)

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