WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With no clear winner Wednesday morning, it’s going to be a common thing for people to question when we will find out who won the presidential election.
At this point, the only thing we know is that Election Day has lived up to the forecasts of a lengthy ballot-counting process.
Both President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden expressed optimism while addressing supporters Wednesday morning, with Trump going so far as to declare – without evidence – that he was victorious.
With many states making it easier to request a mail ballot amid the coronavirus pandemic, it has to be expected those mail ballots will take more time to process than ballots that are cast in person.
States like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin made a conscious decision to wait until Election Day to start counting mail-in ballots. As a result, it could take days to tally enough ballots to project a winner. Pennsylvania has said they don’t expect all votes to be counted for several days.
Meanwhile, Nevada officials have said they won’t have additional results available until Thursday morning, at the earliest.
The wrangling in the states over the use of mail-in ballots has come as Trump falsely claims that mail voting is ripe for widespread fraud.
And here’s another wrinkle that could delay the naming of a winner: In some key states, mail-in ballots can come in several days after Election Day and still be counted, as long as they are postmarked by then. Democrats have argued that the flood of absentee ballots and slow mail delivery in some areas makes such a precaution necessary.
For example, mail-in ballots from Nevada voters are not due until Nov. 10 if postmarked by Election Day. In North Carolina, mail-in ballots were not due until Nov. 12 if postmarked by Election Day.
Additionally, it’s expected the Trump campaign’s legal team will challenge the validity of many mail-in ballots cast in critical battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“We will have a sizable contingent of lawyers who will be ready to fend off any of the shenanigans that Democrats are trying,” Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, told reporters.
So when will we know who our next president is? Right now, it appears Thursday or Friday, at the earliest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.