More than 100,000 labor-intensive provisional ballots await Pa. election workers after mail ballot count

Fifty-seven counties have reported nearly 105,000 provisionals awaiting processing in response to WITF’s inquiry.

Demonstrators demanding for officials to

Demonstrators demanding for officials to "COUNT EVERY VOTE" rally outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

This story originally appeared on WITF.


Pennsylvania’s presidential vote count paused Friday night with former Vice President Joe Biden up 29,000 votes — a fraction of the number of ballots left to be processed.

County election workers had 89,282 mailed ballots to go, Pa. Department of State statistics show.

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With nearly three times as many cast by Democrats as Republicans, Biden has claimed more votes from mailed ballots and that’s expected to continue.

But it’s less clear how provisional ballots will split.

During past elections, voters cast relatively few provisional ballots. They submitted so in Pennsylvania this year because of the state’s rapid shift to mail-in voting amid postal system delays, and without changes to state law election directors had warned were critical to an efficient vote count.

So far, 58 counties had reported nearly 105,000 provisionals awaiting processing in response to WITF’s inquiry.

That group doesn’t include Philadelphia and nine counties with far fewer voters.

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On top of that, 466,147 requested mailed ballots are still unaccounted for.

Some might never be cast.

But others could have arrived since Tuesday. Results don’t yet reflect those ballots because state officials instructed counties to set them aside due to the Pennsylvania GOP’s ballot return deadline challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court.

That case is just one of several compounding other challenges facing election workers counting votes.

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