So here we go: ten months after beginning this blog with the principal intention of focusing on the presidential election, and posting since then on a sporadic, undisciplined yet enthusiastic basis, the good people of the US vote today. The two events are, as far as I know, causally unrelated.
It seems there would have to be a widespread, rare systemic mistake in the polls for Romney to win (cue collective sigh of relief amongst Wannabe Yanks worldwide), and it’s unlikely a single swing state will decide matters, but in the unthinkable event Bob Dylan is wrong (he never is), and that Obama doesn’t win relatively easily and Ohio, say, proves crucial, I was terrified to read today that it may take another ten days for us to know who will occupy the White House for the next four years!
It all comes down to provisional ballots – where someone has cast a vote but there’s a legitimate question about his/her eligibility – of which there are likely to be many, as the chaps at the Washington Post explain:
There were 150,000 such provisional ballots cast in 2008. There could be at least that many this year — including those cast by voters who requested an absentee ballot but didn’t return it. State rules say such people cannot use standard ballots on Election Day and must vote provisionally.
Provisional ballots tend to be used more often by low-income and transient voters, and both sides assume they will break strongly for Obama.
That means Romney could hold a small lead in Ohio at the end of the counting on Tuesday and still lose the race there — possibly even decisively — if several hundred thousand provisional ballots remain to be counted.
Under that scenario, the public should prepare for a long wait. Ohio rules say provisional ballots cannot be counted until 10 days after an election.