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Why the slow vote count?

Why the slow vote count?

Understandably, these dragged-out vote counts – especially when they reverse the trend – provide fuel for the conspiratorial types.  For some folks, it undermines their trust in the system.  It creates more time for suspicions and controversy to flourish – as we are already seeing.

This commentary is not intended to put more fuel on the darker suspicions and claims.  Nothing we have seen so far suggests any large-scale cheating – although there always is a modest level of election shenanigans.

This commentary is merely to ask the question: What takes so long?  At the time of this writing, there are still approximately 20 house races declared to be “too close to call.”  There are hundreds of thousands of ballots yet to be counted.

In past elections, we would have cliffhangers in which the results were not known for days or weeks. But they were almost always a matter of counts … recounts … and court challenges.  Today’s delay, however, is some inexplicable inability to simply count the ballots.

Part of the problem is due to the growth in early and mail-in balloting – and differing laws in different states.  In some states, election officials are not allowed to even certify the early or mail-in ballots until the close of the polls on election day.  Many mail-in ballots will be received after Election Day – but as long as they are postmarked before midnight, they must be counted.

While the number of ballots cast across the nation is enormous, the counting is done at thousands of precincts – with tens of thousands of workers.  Rarely would a precinct have to count more than 2000 to 3000 ballots – some even less.

Over the years, I have worked in dozens of such precincts on Election Day – even as we shifted from paper ballots (some very long) to be hand counted … to machines … to punch cards … to now paper ballots tabulated by scanners.  Large batches of ballots are being scanned by machines running at blurring speeds.

It seems that as we reformed and changed the voting systems, the longer it is taking to reach the final count.  Even with those long hand-counted ballots in days of yore, we knew almost all the winners and losers before bedtime.

With all the folks doing the initial counting – and all those high-tech machines whirling at a dizzying rate of speed, what takes so long?  I do not know that answer … but I do know that it does not have to be so slow.

Results can be challenged and recounted, but there is no reason we should not have the results in Arizona and Nevada – and virtually all those pending House races – within 6 to 24 hours.

How can the ballots be counted more quickly?  First … ALL ballots should be in the hands of the respective precinct works by the close of the polls.  That includes, early votes and mail-ins.  Most places have a close-off date for early voting, we should have the same for mail-in ballots –any ballot not received by the close of the polls on election day does not count.

While the ballots would not be read until after the close of the polls, they can be certified as proper against the registered voter list ahead of time.  As I would propose, all ballots to be counted would be in the precinct by the close of the polls.  It would only take a few hours to get the count – even with election watchers making challenges to questionable ballots before they are entered into the tabulator

With modern technology, I see no reason for these long delays that frustrate candidates and the public alike – and lead to needless speculations.

So. There ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. frank stetson

    No joke. And all the delay just feeds the fools who tout The Big Lie.

    But I take it one more step and ask: why is voting so hard? I saw people standing in hour’s long lines. Why?

    Why can’t I just log in, vote, and be done. Counting would be instantaneous for all internet votes. Non-internet votes would be tabulated faster since there would be so much less of them. And an off-shoot might be extra internet hardening as he batten down the hatches for this one.

    And then, let’s take it ever further…. Imagine referendums being voted on the same way. We could actually vote, real time, on what Congress is thinking about. Screw the pollsters, we can just vote on laws, programs, policies, and positions, nationally, at the drop of a hat and at the speed of light.

    If we can’t make that one safe, should we even trust the internet for anything? Good enough for Fidelity, Mastercard, etc. Why not good enough for voting? I would rather put our money into make that safe and accessible than spending in on funky voting machines, ballot drop boxes, polling and counting places and people. Half the country already thinks that’s not safe.

    • paul

      Well yes but it is harder to cheat that way. No lies here.

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson …. You should be able to answer your own question. The Internet is not safe — not for banking … not for credit information … medical records … and even tax information. Everything on the Internet gets hacked. People have their identities stolen … their bank accounts emptied … their credit cards misused. I recently had t get a new Visa card because someone was using it in Australia. In recent years, we have been concerned that a foreign adversary might hack into the voting machines, If you will recall that as a safety measure, the voting machine are not connected to the Internet — or are not supposed to be. Imagine what they could do with Online voting, You have the Democrat position down pat ….let’s make the voting easier …. for crooks. Yours is one very very bad idea.

      • frank stetson

        I asked “why not” and you said security.

        I hope you feel that easier voting access for American citizens is a good thing and having more people vote is a good thing.

        I asked why can’t we and you said hacking. I agree. But we are America and wouldn’t be a good thing to have a secure internet for voting and other things? Isn’t that a better goal than putting our heads in the sand and saying only paper ballots or fingers on a voting machine is better?

        You said voting machines are off-net for a purpose. I agree, but face it, going off net is the easiest way to protect against hacking. It’s brute force of a manual level. Even in Transformers, “cut the hard line” is famous.

        Let’s face it, anyone can fake it at the polls and fraudulently vote. You guys have a lot of focus on id verification but it’s a stupid safety measure, you probably couldn’t fake enough ids to make a difference anyway without getting caught. You guys are tilting at windmills here but it’s good political fodder you lap up . The difference is the magnitude, you will never amass millions of fake people hitting the polls. And so it’s the collection and the count where you’re focus makes more sense.

        The internet would increase that risk on a global scale. Still, there are ways —

        Imbed a credit card into it so you get PCI compliance.
        or use a Mobile wallets that has fingerprint PIN, PIN, facial ID for verification.
        Using 3D secure online transactions

        Two-Factor Authentication
        Verify Transactions via passport, driver’s license, AVS, even cc security codes
        Ensure PCI Compliance
        Avoid Storing Voter Information
        Use Tokenization and Encryption
        Choose a Secure eCommerce Platform
        obtaining an SSL certificate for your website using HTTPS (Hyper Transfer Protocol Secure)
        Stay Up To Date

        Again, I am no expert, if I was I would be working….it’s a great industry! But I still wonder IF it could be done and feel it’s a great thing to have us fund, resource, and get er done for oh so many reasons including saving Larry’s credit card. (mine was used for a very expensive pair of sneakers from CA). Although someone stealing Larry’s vote would probably crash once Larry tried to vote.

        My point is wouldn’t it be grand if voting was as easy as logging in and voting. On a variety of issues, not just elections. And then we could work the access of those without PCs, without internet access like creating voting places in the libraries. I would thing this a better goal than putting our heads in the sand and cutting the hard lines. I just feel that when I log on, using facial recognition, then a double authentication using my smart phone, then a password —- feels pretty secure to me and would hope we could even improve on that.

        And given tabulations and confirmations really don’t have to be instantaneous, could even build in time for checks and doublechecks before final certification is announced.

        Like I said, I am no expert, just a dreamer. And I’m not the only one :>)

  2. Tom

    My question is why is media already claiming Kelly won the senatorial contest in AZ while Lake says up to 600,000 votes not counted yet and they do not know in Maricopa County when the counting will be done? NV same way!

    Frank, I think you hit the nail on the head. We cannot trust the internet in its current state for something as important as voting. VISA spends lot of money on its own private systems and software to make it safe from all forms of dishonesty such as viruses, malware, spoofing, fraud, stealing individual’s private info, etc. VISA has a huge fraud department to quickly label and resolve fraud. And VISA has achieved a low fraud rate of 0.5% while Medicare can only do 7.0%. But even at 0.5%, for 160 million voters, that is a potential for 800,000 votes. Paper ballots and national ID have yielded France and other countries much lower fraud rates than the USA. I remember the days when everyone went to the polls to vote, and I never heard of fraud. Only case I remember was Kennedy’s father Joe paying people $5 to vote for JFK, and I think this was limited to Chicago where Larry’s experiences hail from. Another issue I have is that if access and voting rights are so important, why do we not have election day as a federal holiday? Maybe attach voting to July 4th so people can go vote on the 3rd, and party/fireworks while we await the results! So in order for this Independent/Unaffiliated voter to trust such a internet voting system, much work will have to be done to gain my confidence in the internet for voting. In theory what you suggest is similar to ideas I have. But the reality of implementation is to coin a famous orange haired man, “HUUUUUUUUUGE”.

    • larry Horist

      Tom … I am not the conspiratorial type, but I do understand why there are suspicions and speculations when voting is so slow. This morning — a week after Election Day — CNN was reporting on unsettled congressional seats. In one district only 39 percent of the vote has been reported. That simply should not be. And i have not heard any explanation for it. I understand delays when there vote is extremely close. You have all kinds of haggling over this ballot and that ballot — and possible recounts. But not to even have the initial vote counted after a week. The fulll vote count could have been reported within a few hours.

      • frank stetson

        I saw plenty of explanations, none of which made me feel better but I could understand.

  3. frank stetson

    Tom, good points however I am pretty sure your description of “fraud” is not only internet fraud but also includes fraudulent billings, etc. Message taken though in that ID fraud would be lucrative given how many hits you could send on the internet versus the polling place. BUT – there has got to be a way. For most of us, there is one pure number, the SSN, basically assigned at birth. Or the cell phone number, assigned later on :>) One would think we could figure out a double or triple authentication system with one of these as the foundation. Facial recognition, voice recognition, hell —– retina scan. I am not an expert, but …… someone here probably is. BECAUSE there just has to be a way —- this is ridiculous and getting worse, not better.

    Who needs a holiday if you can use the internet: yet another bene to our gdp…. :>) And besides, I have already postulated we end all Federal holidays in lieu of floating personal days you can assign to the date and race/creed/religion/species of your desire.

    FYI: haven’t you heard: HUUUUUUGE is in the rearview :>)

  4. LMB

    Doesn’t all state ID’s have a bar code or something that can be read through a computer, say a laptop? Like a scanner?

  5. Trucker-Mike

    If they’re not done counting within 24 hours that is, in itself, evidence of skullduggery. Stop attempting to excuse the inexcusable. Even incompetent, low-IQ election officials should be able to run their $40B tabulation machines & finish the count in a few hours.Taking days & even weeks to count shows either their involvement in corrupt chicanery or their intent to appear as such & invite the accusations. This is completely ridiculous, 3rd-world banana republic underhandedness to alter results or a devious scheme to undermine confidence & then brand those cagey Americans who raise obvious questions as “terrorists who deny elections & pose a threat to democracy.” Either way, it’s despicable quackery & needs to be called out forcefully as such!

  6. Pat

    It takes a long time to make up, fill out, and count all the exact number of votes needed to win. This is why mail-in votes should not be allowed and votes all should be tallied the same day! That’s why we have so much cheating now than we used to. Heavy penalties & jail time should be put on everyone cheating! AND dead people still should not be voted into office! Liars and cheaters! They’ll win at any cost! Did Biden give Soros all that money to buy votes or why was he giving money to that crook! We all need to know since we know he cannot be trusted at all!

  7. AC

    It has been claimed the people today demand instant results, quick turnaround, answers by end of business today, fast food, microwave dinners, and faster computers. Apparently, this generation has no thoughts about probability for error for some things like vote counting. There is the very real truth that hast does create vulnerability for waste.
    Patience people, an election as important as it is mutually believed to be on all sides, deserves time getting the count as exact as humanly possible. The human element factor is inescapable and since the 2020 election had poll workers bullied, threatened, intimidated, and harassed just doing their jobs. Workers in large numbers quite and took the knowledge of the process done correctly with them. Replacements had to be encouraged to volunteer, invest time in training and on the days required, both Election Day and tabulating.
    How many Americans never think about volunteering as a poll worker. Yet, you all don’t hesitate complaining, finding fault, and judge those doing the job and the process.
    If the end result does not suit, the default response is fraud, crooked Democratic operatives, and misinformation spread in anger.
    I’m not registered with nor identify as a Republican or a Democrat. Neither has my trust needed for the beginnings of loyalty. At this time the Democratic Party has the ball. In my view Biden is faring the best as anyone could given the context the nation is dealing with.
    The GOP, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. Trump and his MAGA tribe tilting at windmills and the Party majority trying to keep the flame of democracy alive. For all the mainstream media says otherwise. The real Republicans understand Biden is president after a fair election. Fair Republicans understand how government works best through compromise not power in the hands of just the majority at the moment. Justice in governance has to do with sharing power, together governing for We, the People. Wise leadership, statesmanship even, is needed on both party’s parts. Regardless of the what’s happening on the streets of America. Real leaders do the right thing for the country, their real job and duty they were elected for.
    At the outset of COVID the saying going around was, We’re all in this together”.Few if anyone took that attitude, and proceeded taking the opposite attitude. While, serious leaders understand we ARE all in this country together not one tribe against all others. Who that one tribe is at present is under fierce debate. Well not really a debate. Honest civil debate died when party’s made it “my way or there’s no way”. If government operated on that basis it would be called autocratic. That one side has no will or stomach for debate together does not mean the other os autocratic. More so, the party unwilling in the first place see only one way. Autocratic style government is just one vision imposed dictatorial style.
    Change is needed or no one succeeds.
    Change in election count so impatient people get their want satisfied lands far down on the national priority agenda. Congress does not begin new business for six weeks a few more days won’t change anything. Change must be our minds accepting, admitting, and practicing that we all really are in this together. It’s time that we, Americans, take election counts in our stride and move on. Those who choose bickering and condemning those not like them are the poorer for it.
    Only commentators profit from contrary provocation aimed at the party in power and not their party.

  8. tom williams

    Again, I suggest the National Voter ID Card. It would be free. It would only require the prospective voter to have enough gumption to go to the election HQ and sign up. Then, link the card to the nationwide or statewide computer database and one voter comes in to use his/her card and vote. Simple. But, the Dumbocrats keep telling us this disenfranchises possible voters. I totally disagree. I would reaffirm the rights of each voter to vote or not vote, and make sure that only LIVING voters could vote by linking the system to records of persons passing away. When a death certificate is filed, it goes to the voting database and removes the dead person from the system and deactivates the card.
    As I earlier indicated, I truly believe the franchise should be earned rather than given to everyone simply because they are breathing. Some public service should be required to earn it. Don’t require it. If a person chooses not to vote, then so be it.

  9. frank stetson

    tom: for all of these ideas, most often I am only against them because your side like to do it a few months before the vote……

    but, I don’t want to go to the polls and wait in line and have a hard time imagining anyone being FORCED to do so.

    myself, I either mail-in or drop box, been drop boxing every since Trump put the anti-mail guy in charge of the mail. so not an issue or a great inconvenience to me. however, the other day I moved a lot of money across the internet, from one location to multiple locations and didn’t think once about security. just not an issue. I just don’t see how we can’t make that secure for voting. not as a replacement, but as an alternative.

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson …. More bragging about your wealth …. just like Trump. And your belief that just because your house was not robbed, burglary never happens. We all use Internet transactions knowing they are not 100 percent secure. We cannot make it secure for voting because wee cannot make it secure for anything. I will give you a compliment. You cannot be that stupid.

  10. Frank stetson

    Larry, I a dreamer. You’re a doubter. I hope. You give up. I would rather make it work, not work around it.

    All I am saying is it would be nice, ez, and fast to use the internet. . And I believe the greatest country in the world with the best technical minds might be able to figure it out.

    Bragging about my wealth? I said a lot of money. That could be a couple hundred….

    Keep that snark a rolling.

    Lake goes down. One more magarat to go.

    Gaetz or Greene for speaker. Burn it down! (Figuratively of course)

  11. Ali

    Punching Bag Post is no longer my “go to site” – I’m finding you are deceptively more liberal than you claim…I DO NOT LIKE nor want to listen to two-faced “intellectuals”!!!