Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney called on residents to have “patience” while elections officials tally mail-in ballots, a process that could take “several days.”
Americans have turned to mail-in voting in record numbers this year because of concerns about contracting the coronavirus pandemic at polling places. Pennsylvania law allows election officials to start counting ballots at 8 p.m. when polls close on election day, and the state’s Supreme Court has ruled that mail-in ballots postmarked by election day may be accepted up to November 6.
“After the polls close, and in the ensuing days, we will continue to need your patience. Never in the history of this city have so many people voted by mail,” Mayor Kenney and Philadelphia City Commissioners chairwoman Lisa Deeley wrote in an open letter. “getting a tally of mail-in ballots will easily take several days. This may determine the outcome in Philadelphia, and in the Commonwealth as a whole. So, again, please be patient.”
Pennsylvania’s electoral votes are a must-win for candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden on the path to the White House. President Trump shocked Democrats in 2016 by flipping the state red, bolstered by support in Pennsylvania’s rural areas that largely depend on the fracking industry for jobs.
Trump has also warned of the possibility of widespread voter fraud on election day. Kenney and Deeley sought to reassure residents that the vote-counting process would remain accurate and fair.
“The voting—in-person on Tuesday or mail-in ballots submitted early—will not in any way be manipulated or tainted,” Kenney and Deeley wrote. “Our election officials will be working tirelessly to count and double-check every ballot.”