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Why Is Ballot Counting Slower Every Year, Rather Than Faster?

Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, claims it will need ”until early next week” to process the estimated 519,000 ballots remaining to be counted in the state’s close races for Senate and Governor. In Nevada, there are some 100,000 uncounted mail-in ballots, many dropped off by outside “ballot harvesters” on Election Day.

Florida and other states were able to count almost all of their votes by midnight of Election Day. How is it that some states have become so much worse at counting votes in an era when everything seems to be delivered faster and better?

Both states have switched to largely all mail-in voting. Not only does this slow down the vote count, but it also raises genuine security concerns. In Las Vegas, which has 60 percent of Nevada’s population, the potential for fraud when ballots are automatically mailed to voters who don’t request them (and maybe don’t even live at the address where they’re mailed any longer) is a major concern. This year, observers noted apartment buildings in Las Vegas where piles of undelivered ballots accumulated on tables in the lobby.

Even if nothing inappropriate happens, mail-in ballots generate suspicions of monkey business, especially in skin-tight races. The U.S. Supreme Court has noted that such doubts corrode confidence in institutions and officials.

Going forward, states with massive mail-in ballot programs should scale them back, and allow some early voting but focus voting on Election Day (not Election Month).

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