As of 8:21 p.m. New York time on Nov. 3, multiple media outlets called victories for Trump in West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, and Oklahoma, all states he was widely expected to win.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had victories called in Illinois, Vermont, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
The nation was on pace to exceed the 2016 presidential vote total, driven largely by the nearly 102 million ballots cast ahead of Election Day, part of an early-voting push prompted by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. More than 9 million people voted early in Florida.
The victories by both candidates cap off an extraordinarily eventful election year which included the president’s exoneration in the Russia probe, the near-collapse of the Biden candidacy in the Democratic primary, impeachment, and the historic pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 230,000 Americans.
Minor problems occur every election, and Nov. 3 was no different, given the level of voter enthusiasm, the decentralized nature of U.S. elections, and last-minute voting changes brought on by the pandemic.
Officials have already warned that counting ballots could take days due to the avalanche of mail-in votes, which take more time to process and could result in another round of court battles.
On Election Day, there were long lines and sporadic reports of polling places opening late, along with equipment issues in counties in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Georgia.
There were also reports, as there are every election, of efforts to discourage people from voting that surfaced in robocalls in a few states. The FBI is investigating.
But there were no signs of large-scale voter intimidation or clashes at the polls as some had feared given the level of political rancor this year.
“I would say it is blissfully uneventful,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel told reporters. “We’ve had virtually no disturbances of any kind.”
In Pennsylvania, a judge in Biden’s hometown of Scranton extended voting at two precincts inside an elementary school for 45 minutes past the normal 8 p.m. close of voting, because machines had been down earlier in the day, said Lackawanna County spokesman Joe D’Arienzo.
There were also a few other issues with voting technology. Electronic pollbooks from voting equipment vendor KnowInk failed in Ohio’s second-largest county and in a small Texas county, forcing voting delays as officials replaced them with paper pollbooks.
Earlier on Nov. 3, a federal judge in Washington D.C. ordered U.S. Postal Service inspectors to sweep 27 mail processing facilities for lingering mail-in ballots and send out those votes immediately. The order, which includes centers in central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, South Florida, and parts of Wisconsin, followed concerns the agency wouldn’t be able to deliver ballots on time. Postal data has shown service in some battleground areas severely lagging.
“The slowdown and compromising of the U.S. Postal Service was a concern,” said Rebecca Kraft, a 41-year-old Milwaukee resident who voted in person. “So I said ‘All right, if I’m feeling healthy, I am going to go do it at the polls just to make sure.’”
Misinformation about election procedures and threats of foreign interference also clouded the run-up to Election Day. States hammered out plans to protect from cyberattacks, counter misinformation, and strengthen an election infrastructure tested by massive early voting and pandemic precautions.
The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the Department of Homeland Security stated on Nov. 3 that it had seen no apparent signs of any malicious cyber activity, at least not yet. But officials with the agency also said it was too early to declare victory.
“It has been quiet and we take some confidence in that but we are not out of the woods yet,” said a senior CISA official, speaking on condition of anonymity to brief reporters about ongoing nationwide election monitoring efforts ahead of an official evaluation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.