Because of electoral laws in three important swing states, control of the Senate is unlikely to be apparent on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
On election night, the secretaries of state in GA and Washington, as well as the secretary of the commonwealth in Pennsylvania, are unlikely to proclaim winners in their respective Senate races. Mail-in ballot rules in Washington and Pennsylvania ensure that a considerable percentage will not be tallied on election night, whereas Georgia requires victorious candidates to receive at least 50% of the vote.
In 2020, election analysts in Pennsylvania did not announce a winner until Saturday, November 7, four days after people had cast their votes. Acting Director of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman noted that a declaration might be similarly postponed in 2022 since state law prohibits jurisdictions from tallying mail-in votes before Election Day.
“This delay does not imply something sinister is going on,” she told the Pennsylvania Capital Star. “It just means that the process in Pennsylvania is working as it should and that election workers are doing their jobs to tally every vote.”
In the contest to replace retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey, Democrats John Fetterman and Republicans Mehmet Oz are polling inside the margin of error. According to data supplied by the Director of the Commonwealth’s agency to ABC 27, upwards of 854,000 Pennsylvanians already have submitted early votes.
Similarly, a state regulation governing mail-in ballots in Washington might hinder an early call in the Senate election between incumbent Dem. Patty Murray and Republican Tiffany Smiley. The state’s universal mail-in system permits voters to cast ballots until Election Day. Analysts predicted Washington’s primary results roughly a week after the race on August 2.
“By law, Washington will accept every vote postmarked or dropped off in a county drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Historically, election night reporting has reflected approximately 40-50% of the final vote tally, mostly from votes received prior to Election Day.” The Washington Sec. of State’s office informed the Daily Caller that “in most circumstances, a vast percentage of the total count is accessible by Friday of election week.”
“Since voters have until November 28 to remedy their ballot if it is contested owing to a signature mismatch or other issue, additional ballots will be added to the tallies until counties declare their results on November 29.”
Georgia’s Senate contest, according to FiveThirtyEight, is the tipping point for power of the upper chamber. Several surveys have indicated that Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker are racing within the margin of error, with Libertarian Chase Oliver pulling between two and four percent. If no candidate obtains 50% of the vote, Georgia will hold a run-off election on December 6.