What to Know
- Pennsylvania is one of the final states counting ballots, and among a handful that will decide the presidential election.
- Mail-in ballot counting by counties stretched into Thursday.
- President Donald Trump's initial Election Night lead of more than 700,000 votes had shrunk to around 164,000 by Thursday morning.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The number of counted mail-in ballots continues to climb. Here is the newest story on the Pennsylvania tally. It will be updated throughout Thursday with the latest numbers.
Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes in the presidential election remain up in the air Thursday as more mail-in votes in Philadelphia continue to close the gap between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
An estimated 50% of more than 2 million mail-in ballots were still uncounted as of Wednesday. The total number uncounted as of Thursday was unclear as Philadelphia added more than 19,000 votes to the count, slightly cutting further into Trump's lead. Some suburban counties also announced they had finished counting mail-in votes received as of the end of Election Day.
Pennsylvania, which narrowly went for Trump in 2016 but in which he was struggling against Keystone State native Biden, is among the undecided states still counting ballots that will determine who gets to the necessary 270 electoral votes. The other states are Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina.
"That takes longer than we used to do it," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday of the mail-in ballot counting. "We may not know the results even today."
More than 2.5 million mail-in ballots were cast in Pennsylvania. With about half still uncounted, Trump had an 11% lead over Biden at noon Wednesday. Of the mail-in ballots already counted, an overwhelmingly number were cast for Biden.
The heavy tilt of mail-in ballots toward Biden could be witnessed in real time as Trump's lead was down to 8%. By 9:25 a.m. Thursday, the lead was just around 2.5%.
The Democratic challenger is hoping that the remaining mail-in ballots will allow him to overtake Trump. As of Thursday morning, Biden needed about 164,000 more votes from the remaining mail-in ballots to surpass Trump.
That was considerably less than the 700,000-vote lead that Trump had on Election Night.
Trump campaign officials said they would sue Pennsylvania election officials to halt the counting of votes. They alleged a lack of transparency in the process, without citing any actual issues or problems.
A lead for Trump after in-person voting on Nov. 3 was expected after registered Democrats requested mail-in ballots by a 2-to-1 margin compared with registered Republicans.
Wolf promised that every vote would be counted before the tally was final, no matter how long it takes.
"Pennsylvania will have a fair election and we will count every vote," Wolf said.
On Thursday, Wolf reiterated that every vote will be counted and condemned any efforts to stop the count or intimidate election workers.
It's normal to take a few days to count mailed ballots, and the state is dealing with an unprecedented number of them.
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
In heavily Democratic counties like Philadelphia and some surrounding suburbs, hundreds of thousands of ballots had yet to be counted by noon Wednesday.
The last count Philadelphia put out Thursday morning, based in figures showed about 253,000 mail-in ballots had been processed. In neighboring Montgomery and Chester counties, officials announced that all main-in ballots received by 8 p.m. on Election Day had been processed as of Thursday morning.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.