The Note: Slow-motion vote count is less than meets the eye

Nine days after voting ended, the election could take a while to wind down.

November 12, 2020, 5:59 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's 2020, not 2000. Which post-election period goes down as wilder, though, has yet to be determined.

Nine days after voting ended, it's clear that the election could take a while to wind down. That's not because it was particularly close: President-elect Joe Biden has cleared a 5-million-vote edge over President Donald Trump, in what's looking like a record-turnout election that remains on track to deliver him as many electoral votes -- 306 -- as Trump won in 2016.

PHOTO: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference on Nov. 11, 2020, in Atlanta.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference on Nov. 11, 2020, in Atlanta. Georgia election officials have announced an audit of presidential election results that will trigger a full hand recount.
Brynn Anderson/AP

But the manual recount of votes in Georgia announced Wednesday will be painstaking and is unlikely to finish until a week from Friday. As the GOP secretary of state has acknowledged, this is exceedingly unlikely to change the margins in Georgia -- and, of course, Trump needs even bigger turnabouts in states he lost more decisively, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, to have a plausible chance at a second term.

Does it matter? Not to Biden, who is running an orderly transition that stands in contrast with the chaos still coming from the White House. His choice of Ron Klain as chief of staff is another signal about normalcy -- and a tacit acknowledgment that Biden understands concerns raised on his left.

Vote counting, though, seems destined to drag beyond this month. That would mark a win, under the circumstances, for the Trump team -- with twin goals of seeing mistrust in the process and hoping for the equivalent of legal miracles.

It has become more clear in Washington and world capitals that Biden has won and will be the next president.

Trump is getting his wish, at least in one state, in slowing the process down. The institutions of governance, though, are holding through the delay -- at least until the next flurry comes from the president.

Election latest: Joe Biden leads the popular vote total with 77,558,792 votes and is projected to have 279 electoral votes. President Donald Trump follows with 72,349,982 popular votes and is projected to have 217 electoral votes.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

While Democrats were noticeably united ahead of Election Day, tensions and fissures will be increasingly public now that Biden is moving forward setting up his team and cementing his initial agenda.

Among Democrats in the House, we have already seen extreme finger-pointing and frustration -- accusations that policies and rhetoric from those members in urban centers handicapped Democrats in rural America. While often younger and more diverse members of Congress have argued right back that organizing in cities, on tribal lands and in other Democratic strongholds put Biden over the edge last week.

In the coming days, expect even more progressive organizations to list their preferences and demands in personnel choices for the new administration.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 13, 2018, file photo, Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
In this Nov. 13, 2018, file photo, Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, FILE

Sen. Elizabeth Warren too made it clear in her op-ed Wednesday that progressives did not plan on shying away from any fights. She listed progressive referendums that were successful on ballots across the country and laid out several concrete policies she thought Biden should enact immediately through executive order and authority.

Hours after her op-ed published, Warren praised Biden's pick for chief of staff. It's a sign Biden is thoughtfully working, for now, to calm nerves with consensus personnel choices at the start.

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

The clock is running out for Trump and his legal challenges. Although he's disputing results across the nation, he's honing his fights in crucial states like Michigan and Pennsylvania in an attempt -- which is nearly certain to fail -- to turn the election his favor.

States are approaching their election certification deadlines -- which cement election results and funnel them to the Electoral College in mid-December. Georgia is the first notable state on the list on Nov. 20, Michigan and Pennsylvania on Nov. 23, with Arizona on Nov. 30 and Wisconsin on Dec. 1.

PHOTO: People protest after the Nov. 3 elections, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Los Angeles.
People protest after the Nov. 3 elections, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Los Angeles.
Ringo H.w. Chiu/AP

Congress set Dec. 8 as a "safe harbor" deadline, meaning that results have to be set in stone and ready for the Electoral College to vote on by Dec. 14. Those official electoral votes are delivered to officials by the 23rd and by Jan. 6, 2021, a joint session of Congress will do their certification, of sorts, by formally counting electoral votes and declaring the results official.

The Trump campaign so far has not had much success in its court battles -- many of them getting dismissed almost as fast as they were brought. The calendar, seen as one of the only nonnegotiable aspects of the election at this point, certainly won't help Trump's attempts in the courts.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Thursday morning's episode features a conversation with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who tells us what we need to know about Georgia's upcoming hand recount. ABC News' Anne Flaherty explains how COVID surges are impacting Thanksgiving plans. And ABC News' Patrick Reevell tells us about his exclusive conversation with former Marine Paul Whelan, who remains imprisoned in Russia on spying charges.

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz joins Political Director Rick Klein and Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl to discuss the abrupt changes at the Pentagon, a building and military network she knows intimately.


  • Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, appears on ABC's "Good Morning America"
  • Former minority leader of the Georgia House Stacey Abrams joins ABC's "The View."
  • Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jon Ossoff hosts a "Future of Georgia" event in Albany, Georgia, at 10:30 am.
  • President Donald Trump has lunch with Vice President Michael Pence at 12:30 p.m. and meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin at 4 p.m.
  • Joe Biden meets with transition advisers.

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