Biden is projected to win the election, but it isn’t over. Here’s what comes next

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Joe Biden

FILE – In this Aug. 20, 2020, file photo Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, and his wife Jill Biden, join Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and her husband Doug Emhoff, during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — While the 2020 Election has been projected for President-elect Joe Biden to win, the finish line hasn’t been reached just yet for several reasons.

States are still counting

While the race was called Saturday morning after the Pennsylvania totals were updated, there are still many outstanding ballots to be counted.

As of 4 p.m. on Saturday, these are the numbers of ballots still waiting to be counted, according to CNN:

  • ArizonaAbout 250,000 to 270,000. At least 100,000 ballots are from the most populous county, Maricopa.
  • GeorgiaAt least 13,000 provisional ballots. Over 4,800 of these are from Fulton County, Georgia’s largest county, which includes Atlanta. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said because the margin is so small, there will be a recount.
  • Nevada — Nevada last reported on Thursday, when they said about 190,150 remained. Ninety percent of these are from Clark County, the state’s most populous.
  • North Carolina4,300 absentee ballots and waiting on 116,000 requested absentee ballots to return. The county is still sorting out whether some of the ballots that are in need to be canceled because that person chose to vote in person after all. Additionally, in NC, voters can send their postmarked ballots as long as they’re received by Nov. 12.
  • PennsylvaniaAbout 113,000 absentee ballots and 10-15,000 provisional ballots. Of these, about 40,000 are from Philadelphia and about 36,000 are from Pittsburgh.

This may lead you to wonder why a winner has been called if votes are still being counted.

According to NBC News political director Chuck Todd, it had to do with the amount of votes counted already — enough in favor of Biden that even if most of the remaining uncounted ballots had been for Trump, it still wouldn’t have been enough.

“Look, we got just enough vote in, in order to call Pennsylvania, even if it may slip into a recount,” said Todd. “We think it’s just mathematically, nearly impossible for the order of finish to change in Pennsylvania.”

The Associated Press backs up this concept, explaining:

Only when AP is fully confident a race has been won – defined most simply as the moment a trailing candidate no longer has a path to victory – will we make a call. In the race for president in 2016, that moment came at 2:29 a.m. ET the day after Election Day. Our APNewsAlert put it simply: “WASHINGTON (AP) – Donald Trump elected president of the United States.”

Additionally, AP says, past history factors into calling a race. For some states, AP’s Race Callers may also take into account a party or candidate’s past history and whether they have delivered big wins.


AP also explains that in areas where races were very close and are contested, recounts can happen.

As of Sunday, the Trump campaign has called for a recount in Wisconsin, meanwhile, the state of Georgia has said it expects to perform a recount. On Sunday, however, MSNBC reported that Biden’s vote lead in Georgia has reached 10,196 votes. It’s not yet known if this margin will change the possibility of a recount.

Other states where races were tighter than others like Arizona and Pennsylvania, the state that handed Biden the presidency, could also follow.

Despite many recounts throughout history, as CNBC reports, they rarely changed the outcome of a race. In the past 20 years, only three statewide general elections have been reversed following a recount, a FairVote report of 5,778 races found.

Adding to the workload of executing a recount is the differing laws across states.

For the states that may have a recount in 2020, CNBC reports the laws are:

  • Georgia — Based on Georgia laws, a very slim win is not enough alone to cause a recount, but a losing candidate can request a recount if they lost by less than .5% total votes. A request can also only be made to the Secretary of State within two business days after election results are certified — in this case, it would be Nov. 20.
  • Wisconsin — Wisconsin law allows an “aggrieved” candidate to request a recount if they received within 1% of the winner’s vote total. This must be done by 5 p.m. the first business day after the state’s election commission has received final results from all counties, in this case, it would be Nov. 17.
  • Pennsylvania — Under state laws, the Secretary of State must order a recount if the difference in loss is .5% or less. Additionally, a recount will happen if at least three voters in each county claim there were errors in the count.
  • Arizona — Recounts in Arizona are required if the margin between candidates is within .1% of the total votes cast.

Adding stress to the possible round of recounts is voter fraud conspiracy theories advanced by President Donald Trump and supporters, despite lack of credible evidence.

Electoral College and faithless electors

The presidential election isn’t over until the members of the Electoral College vote in December. The Electoral College is made up of 538 members. The 538 votes are dispersed throughout the states based on each state’s number of U.S. representatives and senators.

Each elector is expected to vote for the presidential candidate that won his or her state.

There is potential for faithless electors, however. A faithless elector bucks his or her state’s voting results, choosing to instead place their vote for another candidate that was on or off of the ballot.

Many states have laws in place, preventing electors from diverting their vote. This Politico article highlighted the record number of faithless voters in 2016.

In 2016, 36 Texas electors cast their vote for Donald Trump, two didn’t.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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