The results of Pennsylvania’s midterm elections could take “days” to tabulate, a state official said Wednesday.

Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman told NBC’s Chuck Todd that because of a state law restricting when mail-in ballots can begin to be counted, official results for pivotal races for the US Senate and the Governor’s Mansion will not be available on election night. 

“Days, and it’s hard to estimate,” Chapman told Todd on “Meet the Press NOW” when asked how long it could take to declare a winner in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate. 

The acting secretary added that the state has received about half of the 1.3 million absentee and mail-in ballots requested by Pennsylvania voters. Those ballots cannot be opened until 7 a.m. on Election Day, unlike other states that “pre-canvass” mail-in ballots. 

“The best we can do is just manage expectations and let voters know that election officials need to do their job,” Chapman said, adding that “delays in results does not mean anything bad is happening.” 

Pennsylvania's acting secretary of state, Leigh Chapman
Official results for the US Senate and the Governor’s Mansion will not be available on election night, according to secretary of state, Leigh Chapman.
AP/Marc Levy
ballots
The results of Pennsylvania’s midterm elections could take longer than expected.
AP/ Matt Rourke

In the 2020 presidential election, most news organizations did not declare Joe Biden the winner in Pennsylvania until Nov. 7, four days after Election Day. Donald Trump began with a lead in the Keystone State on election night in 2020 before votes from Democrat-leaning Philadelphia and absentee ballots began being counted, which eventually pushed Biden ahead. 

In Pennsylvania’s Senate race, Democrat John Fetterman is polling just barely ahead of his Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz. A Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Fetterman leading Oz by 1.3 percentage points. 

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman,
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.
AP/Patrick Semansky
Republican Pennsylvania Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz
Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.
Getty Images/ Mark Makela

“It doesn’t mean ballots are showing up out of nowhere,” Chapman said of the expected delay in announcing the results of the race.

“It’s because of that restriction where we can’t start pre-processing or canvassing those votes until election morning,” she said. 



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