In an op-ed piece for The Washington Post Edward Foley of Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law and Joanne Lipman, former editor in chief of USA Today, rebuff the claim that there is a “delay” if presidential election results are not declared on election night. 

The piece, “If we don’t dispel the falsehood of an election ‘delay’ now, we risk chaos in November,” advises that “[p]redictions of a delay rest on a misunderstanding of the vote-counting process — a misunderstanding that is both dangerous and hugely consequential.” While there are legitimate concerns surrounding the upcoming election such as post office budget cuts and limited in-person voting due to the pandemic, the preemptive claim of a “delay” in election results isn’t one of them.  In truth, “If results aren’t known on election night, that doesn’t mean there’s a delay. The fact is, there are never official results on election night. There never have been. … even if counting takes several weeks, that wouldn’t constitute a delay — because by law, election results aren’t official until more than a month after the election. The 12th Amendment and the accompanying Electoral Count Act of 1887 give states five weeks — this year, until Dec. 8 — to count their popular votes.”  

Read the full piece here [subscription required]. 

In an effort to provide election officials with information regarding the implementation of proper procedures for absentee voting, ALI is making Part I of Principles of the Law, Election Administration available for free download. The principles apply to any type of elective office and are structured to be useful to multiple audiences, including state legislatures, state courts, and state officers such as secretaries of state and local election officials.  

For additional information or to request a full copy of Principles of the Law, Election Administration, please contact Jennifer Morinigo at or 215-243-1655. 

ALI Staff

The American Law Institute

Jennifer Morinigo

The American Law Institute


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