Actually, We Will Know a Lot on Election Night

(This op-ed was first published in The Wall Street Journaon September 24, 2020.)

Barriers to Voting with Guest Rabia Belt

Most states begin processing their presidential ballots before Nov. 3, and local officials have been preparing all summer for a surge in mail ballots.

Pundits are warning that election night in November may turn into election week or even election month. Amid the pandemic, election officials are bracing for a flood of ballots sent by mail, and Americans may need to wait an unusually long time to know for sure who won and by how much. But that doesn’t mean we will be in the dark about the next president until all the official state counts are completed. In all likelihood, we will have a good idea on election night, or within a few days after, of whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden won the White House.

(Continue reading the op-ed on The Wall Street Journal’s page here.)

Nate Persily is the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. Charles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at MIT. They are co-directors of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project.