Bokvar’s comments come amid plans by some Pennsylvania counties to delay counting any mail ballots – whether they arrive before or after the close – until late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Pennsylvania law allows counties to begin counting mail and absentee ballots starting at 7 p.m. on Election Day, but does not require them to do so immediately. Cumberland County, a Democratic district outside Harrisburg, indicated Wednesday that he would not start counting the ballots for Wednesday, citing the need to prioritize resources for personal voting. Several more reportedly smaller counties intend to delay the counting of mail votes.
The importance of push-and-pull between the state and counties could be of national importance. Both campaigns see Pennsylvania, with its 20 votes at Electoral College, as potentially decisive. Trump won the state with just 44,292 votes in 2016, and local Scradon Joe Biden got there a lot.
The US Supreme Court ruled earlier this week chose against Accelerating the Republican challenge to the state Supreme Court ruling to allow voters to be counted up to three days after Election Day, but Judge Samuel Alito, by contrast, said the court could reconsider the issue after the election. Newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected the court’s move, but it could represent a decisive fifth vote in either direction.
Trump on Friday reiterated the idea that the election would “end” on November 3, a continuation of his repeated calls to limit the counting of votes that may leak days after the election. Every election in modern history has included the counting of votes that continues for days or even weeks, especially in states with laws that allow the counting of ballots abroad or absences that have been noted since Election Day, even if they arrive days later. Several states have also eased deadlines to explain the increase in postal voting due to the pandemic.
Bokvar said about 73% of the 3 million votes cast by Pennsylvania voters had been returned.
In recent days, Democrats have pushed their voters to avoid postal voting across the country, in between suggestions by the Supreme Court that some states may be ordered to suspend the counting of ballots arriving after Election Day.
Zach Montellaro contributed.