How the US counts votes

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In a normal presidential election year, many Americans go from casting our vote before work in the morning to turning off the TV before bed, secure in our knowledge of who will lead the country for the next four years. But in 2020, there’s a better-than-average chance that won’t happen.

Even before the coronavirus struck, more Americans each election were either voting early or voting my mail. But in 2020, these numbers are expected to skyrocket, and that means states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which don’t start counting mail-in ballots until election day, probably won’t have results for several days. This year, voters are facing a pandemic, a deliberately underfunded postal service, and the closure of polling locations in battleground states like Georgia, Ohio, Arizona, and Texas.

In this video, we take a comprehensive deep dive into how states count votes. Each of the 3,141 counties in the US has its own rules, but there are some basic steps that are mostly the same across the country. Whether you’re voting in person early, on election day, by mail, or dropping off your ballot, we break down some of the differences and similarities in how and when states collect, verify, process, and count ballots.

Once you understand how votes are counted, it’s clear just how important each vote really is.


Further reading:
Voting by mail and absentee voting (MIT Election Data and Science Lab)

Democracy Diverted: Polling Place Closures and the Right to Vote (The Leadership Conference Education Fund)

Election night marks the end of one phase of campaign 2020 – and the start of another (Pew)

How Quickly Will Your Absentee Vote Be Counted? A State-by-State Timeline (New York Times)

The Voting Process: From the Ballot Box to the Presidency (NBC News)

How Mail-in Voting Works In Ohio: A Step-By-Step Guide (WVU)




💬 Comments
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Watching the current affairs of your country is like watching the fall of Rome in real time.

Author — Phyto Alchemist

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This is a good channel. I am thinking of creating a channel like this in Vietnam.

Author — Discover Vietnam TV

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Seriously every vote counts. Here in Malaysia we had an unprecedented voter turnout rate in 2018 and managed to overthrow a government that has been in power for 60+ years.

Author — KJ Mok

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Brazil has a eletronic ballot box. It takes 5 hours to know who's the president. 6 hours to try to impeach 'em. 7 hours to cry alongside our caipirinhas. 8 hours to start a riot. 9 hours to finally accept the results.

Author — Emily Anicetto

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*Nevada counting ballots like the sloth in Zootopia.*

Author — anisa nurraudah

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This is the most ridiculously complicated voting process I’ve ever heard. And that’s before even mentioning the electoral college.

Author — Kye Chun

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Its funny how Americans keep going on about "FREEDOM" and "DEMOCRACY" and it is not nearly as simple as other countries.

Author — Toma Oiler

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me: is not american, doesn’t live anywhere close to america
also me: * watches every video I can find on the 2020 elections *

Author — Alusias

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Video : How the US counts votes

Nevada : "We don't do that here"

Author — Oswald

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They got NASA and top universities but still can't simplify their election. 😂😂😂

Author — Cosmos BFN

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Why is everything so confusing In America?

Author — Utkarssh B

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In Germany we either vote in person on election day (which is always on a Sunday when people are off work) or by mail before the election. A few weeks in advance every German citizen who is allowed to vote will receive an election voting card along with a pre-paid stamped envelope. You just throw it into the mailbox or you bring it with you on election day. Job done.

Author — Erk Schneider

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They weren’t kidding when the said democracy is a marathon.

Author — Jainish

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In Bangladesh, we don't need to vote. Last time, the ruling party did that for us on day before election night. So, we know, who is going win 2/3 yrs earlier.

Author — Sakib Sagirul

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In France : you show up on election day (a sunday). You wait 5 minutes tops. You vote. They count the ballots at the end of the day. The end.

Author — pkhkp

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Why don’t we just have the presidential candidates in an arena and they have to fight to the death.

Author — Luke LaFratta

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"Democracy is a marathon, not a sprint."

Author — 旭楷

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Voting is 100% more effective than complaining on the internet

Author — Be Nice

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Honestly, this is the most I've ever learned about the US voting system.

Author — Jim Davis

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they should get those chuck e cheese ticket eaters and do it that way.

Author — Ev an