Nightmare scenario: The election night that might not end

Top Line

This campaign only feels like it's been going on forever. Really. It has been a mere 14 months since the Iowa Straw Poll. But for those of you living in battleground states and associated television markets, it probably feels a lot longer.

You've probably been thinking, 'There are only a few days left! There is a light at the end of the tunnel!'

But this election is close — at least that's what the polls seem to indicate. And a close election means that the winner may not be clear for hours, maybe even days…maybe even weeks. Why? Because each state has its own, sometimes quirky, state laws that dictate how votes are counted and when recounts are triggered.

Take the critical battleground state of Ohio for instance. In that state, people can vote absentee or in person. But if you request an absentee ballot and still show up on election day at your polling station, you get what's known as a 'provisional ballot.' Now, analysts may call results earlier if the margin between the winner and the loser in that state is greater than the number of provisional ballots cast. But if it's not … and there is a very narrow margin of difference, we will all have to wait for the provisional ballots to be counted. And according to Ohio law, that counting cannot commence before November 17.

But that's not the only potential cause of delay. If the margin is narrow in several other states, automatic recounts are triggered — virtually guaranteeing a delay in the resolution of the race. And in other states, either side can demand a recount through the courts, or even pay for one.

Watch today's Top Line for more on these possibilities and why we might just be disappointing little Abigail this year.

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