All Eyes on Pennsylvania as Crucial Swing State Keeps Counting Votes

From Philadelphia to the suburbs, people are lined up and socially distancing as they wait to cast votes on Election Day

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What to Know

  • Pennsylvania voters are playing a crucial and perhaps decisive role in choosing the next president as Donald Trump and Joe Biden headline a statewide election in which millions of ballots were cast.
  • As Election Day stretched into Nov. 4, more than 1 million votes were left to be counted.
  • Officials have urged patience as votes continue to be tabulated.

The race for Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes pushed into Wednesday morning as the nation’s eyes were trained on the critical swing state that could decide the next president.

Pennsylvania, which narrowly went for President Donald Trump in 2016 but in which he was struggling against Keystone State native Joe Biden, was poised to possibly have a long night of counting votes due to an influx of millions of mail-in ballots caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Tom Wolf took to Twitter overnight to urge Pennsylvanians and the nation to be patient and called any attack at counting more than 1 million votes that remained "is a partisan attack on Pennsylvania's elections, our votes and democracy."

"Pennsylvania will have a fair election and we will count every vote," Wolf said.

Wolf and state officials are expected to address the vote counting later on Wednesday morning.

It's normal to take a few days to count mailed ballots, and the state is dealing with an unprecedented number of them after the coronavirus pandemic convinced lawmakers for the first time to allow people to request a mail ballot without an excuse.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar also noted that, even pre-pandemic, absentee ballots from soldiers can be counted up to a week after the election and that their votes must be tabulated too.

Live Election Results

Source: AP

Philadelphia officials gave an update on the city’s mail-in vote totals Wednesday morning, but while counting was continuing, the configuration of the city’s election system meant that officials had to tabulate in-person votes first, which was causing a delay in reporting mail-in votes, said Michelle Deeley, chairwoman of the Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners.

“We are counting. We have been counting. We are going to continue to count until it’s done,” she said Tuesday.

The last count the city put out, based in figures from 5:11 a.m. on Wednesday, showed about 142,000 mail-in ballots had been processed out of an estimated 350,000.

The results of the 2020 presidential election are still being decided, and swing states like Pennsylvania will be a critical factor in who wins. NBC10's Erin Coleman and Keith Jones spoke with University of Pennsylvania political analyst Brian Rosenwald about which counties are still being counted in Pennsylvania.

The City confirmed it received some ballots after polls closed at 8 p.m., but wouldn't say how many.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday in the state, and there were plenty of voters already waiting. Some polling locations were slow to get going as voters got upset, but at many polling places NBC10 visited, it was quieter around midday.

Still, with those in-person crowds and a high number of mail-in ballots, state officials were confident the final numbers in this critical 2020 election would show "healthy turnout," they told reporters Tuesday.

“So the engagement was high since early this morning, which is great,” Boockvar said in a news conference. “We expect very healthy turnout given the intense interest in this election, and especially in Pennsylvania’s critical role in it."

In extreme cases, voters reported wait times of up to four hours, but plenty waited only a few minutes or hardly at all.

Voters who did flock to the polls were encouraged to remain 6 feet apart as they waited in line. And despite concerns about voter intimidation, officials all across our region tell NBC10 they haven't seen much.

Just before 5 p.m. the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office Election Task Force saw 52 reports of incidents, with 47 being resolved peacefully. Most were minor, and the most urgent cases were traced back to disinformation that spread on social media.

"Misinformation being spread online has driven more calls to the ETF hotline than actual incidents at polling sites," the DA's office said, encouraging anyone with concerns to contact the hotline at 215-686-9641.

NBC10's Mitch Blacher reports about frustrations some voters are feeling by late opening polling places, long lines and some problems at polling places. There are no reports, however, of widespread voting intimidation in the city.

Also Tuesday, elections workers were in large facilities, including the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and opening envelopes from mailed ballots. The count for mailed votes could take days, and Wolf has said that the country may not know the electoral outcome in Pennsylvania right away.

Before polls opened there were lines of people outside the Kimmel Center in Center City Philadelphia and Whitemarsh Elementary School in Montgomery County. One voter in Whitemarsh was in line for more than an hour before getting inside to cast a vote. The line at the Kimmel Center had calmed down before 9 a.m. after a before-work rush.

There were people lined up at other spots throughout the city, suburbs and Lehigh Valley. Lines were also reported in the Pittsburgh area. Pennsylvania wasn't exclusive in lines. There was also a line outside at least one New Castle County, Delaware, church.

Some lines were longer than normal due to masked people trying to keep distance from one another.

Pennsylvania will play a key role in the election. One county in the Keystone state that’s known to support Republican candidates is Berks County. That’s where NBC10’s Steven Fisher spoke with voters.

As with many other election days, some polling places saw slowdowns in voting during the daytime hours. At one North Philadelphia polling location there were more poll volunteers than voters at one point.

If you were in line to vote at a polling place when polls close at 8 p.m. in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, you were allowed to cast your vote.

There was no clear presidential winner as of Wednesday morning. In a normal year, experts and journalists are typically able to call the winner of the presidential race by looking at exit polls and early returns. Not every state had all its votes counted on election night, which is normal when there are mail ballots. Plus, some states are not allowed to, or are not planning to, count their mail ballots until on or after Election Day.

Anyone who encountered issues at the polls can call the NBC10 voter issue tip line at 215-201-5008 or email

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