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President Trump wants election results official on Election Day. Why that won't happen

Experts say up to half of all ballots could be mailed in this year due to the pandemic, and varying state laws could mean delays in learning who wins the presidency.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tuesday marks just one week from the 2020 presidential election, and the COVID-19 pandemic has changed pretty much everything about our lives, including how we vote and when we find out who wins the presidency

A lot of people are voting by mail this year, which means there's a good chance we won't know who wins the presidency on Election Night. Experts say as many as half of all ballots are by mail this year, and counting those ballots takes a lot more time. Not to mention every state has different laws about when those votes can begin to be counted and when they must be received by the post office. 

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In some states, like South Carolina, mail-in ballots can't be counted until Election Day. Major swing states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin also have strict rules about when mail-in votes can be counted. This could lead to delays in finding out who wins these critical states. In North Carolina, mail-in ballots are allowed to be processed  ahead of Election Day, but the results cannot be released until Election Night.

Also, it's important to remember the results that are shown on TV on Election Night aren't official, anyway. They're typically projections based on the number of precincts, registered voters, and other factors that can determine who will win a race. The canvassing period takes several days to complete. In North Carolina, the canvassing process allows counties 10 days to certify their results and the State Board of Elections certifies them three weeks later. 

The other big day on tallying mail-in votes? Most of them don't have to be in by Election Day, they just have to be postmarked by then. This means lots of voters' ballots won't get to the board of elections until days later. Experts say it's important to set your expectations now.

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