NORTH CAROLINA, USA — Ballots are still being counted as of Wednesday night, many absentees, as America waits to find out who will be the next president of the United States.
The process is more complex than just scanning ballots in a machine.
University of North Carolina Greensboro Political Science Professor Hunter Bacot said with all the different options given to voters, and how many people turned out to vote, this year's ballot-counting process will take time.
"Counting votes is a major enterprise. With the different types of voting, we have now early, in-person, mail-in ballot voting, and election day voting, we are basically conducting three different types of elections in one and so that’s a very complicated and complex way to do something," said Bacot.
Each state's process of vetting and accepting absentee ballots is different.
"Different states have different stipulations that require ballots to be valid so it’s not just necessarily opening the envelope sticking it in the machine and counting it, it’s looking at the envelope making sure that it complies with the rules and regulations," said Bacot, "If it doesn’t, setting it aside."
Bacot said when the ballots set aside are revisited, the process can get complicated.
"You have to look at the one set aside and make sure that they are valid or invalid and in some states, they give the opportunity to someone who submitted an invalid ballot to correct their ballot so that’s the process it takes longer," he said.
As of Wednesday night, states like Pennsylvania had significantly more ballots to count than North Carolina did.
High Point University Political Science Professor Martin Kifer said it's because some states have laws that prevent them from processing ballots until after the polls close.
"You’re going to have a state like Pennsylvania where you didn’t start counting until Election Day until everything’s in," said Kifer, "Here in North Carolina, though, we're able to process ballots before Election Day, release what you know on Election Day, but still there are a few days left where some ballots may be trickling in that people put in the mail and so forth."
Kifer said those outstanding mail-in ballots that may be trickling in are what's keeping some close states from being called in the election, while other races have been.
For example, the North Carolina Governor's race. Kifer said it had a large enough margin between the two candidates and that's why it was called Tuesday night.
"There’s a few including near the top of the ballot where we don’t know for sure because even if it seems like it’s dozens or even 100,000 votes, the outstanding votes those votes that need to be counted may be more than that," said Kifer.
The tight races: something some polls before the election didn't even come close to. A Wall Street Journal Poll had Biden leading Trump by 11 points less than a month out from the election. A CNBC poll had Biden leading Trump by 11 points just a week away from the election.
But Bacot said polling is tricky and difficult to nail down.
"When you’re trying to forecast from one poll to election day you’re also introducing some other factors in trying to determine what turn out will be," said Bacot, "if you peg turnout at an average level then you’re going to be off because turnout in North Carolina was about 5% higher than it’s ever been so that five points is a significant difference. Polling in a state is very difficult for an election," he said.
Both Bacot and Kifer said it's important to practice patience with the ballot counting process to ensure every vote gets counted.