Road to 270: How influx absentee ballots could impact results

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The 2020 election season is coming to an end.

More than 302,000 people voted in person during early voting in Shelby County along with almost 24,000 absentee ballots returned.

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But Tennessee is one of many states that can’t process or count absentee ballots until Election Day which could impact the timing of the results.

“We are looking at potentially not only several days but who knows maybe weeks. [President] Trump has already indicated that he wants to get his lawyers involved right away to challenge in particular absentee ballots,” said Dr. Justin Rose, Rhodes College political science chair.

Despite the major increase in absentee ballots, Rose said there are a few states that could hand President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden the victory.

Rose said Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia and Florida are battleground states this season.

If either candidate wins some of these states, Rose said they will have a solid lead but he said the real gamechanger is Florida and it’s not just because of its size.

“Even though they have a higher number of absentee ballots, the rules of Florida allow them to process and count their ballots prior to the election so all they have to do is count those who voted in person,” said Rose.

Rose said another factor to watch will be election day turnout. He said traditionally Democrats vote in higher numbers during early voting while Republicans wait until Election Day.

“If you don’t see a surge in Republican turnout tomorrow then it’s pretty clear Joe Biden will win however if Republicans are right and they come to the polls and support Trump, there’s a chance he will win tomorrow,” said Rose.

Rose said another wild card is young voters and Latinx voters. He said there hasn’t been as much data showing turnout for these voters, and there isn’t much information on who these voters could support and what party they identify with.