FEC Commissioner Warns There's A 'Substantial Chance' Winner Isn't Called On Election Night

Mary Papenfuss

A member of the Federal Election Commission warned Monday that there’s a “substantial chance” a winner won’t be declared in the presidential race on election night because of expected challenges at polling stations and with mail-in ballots amid the COVID-19 crisis.

But Commissioner Ellen Weintraub (D) urged voters to be patient while extra care is taken to tally all the votes “accurately” in order to “ensure that everyone’s vote counts.”

“We’re all going to need to take a deep breath and be patient this year because there’s a substantial chance we are not going to know on election night what the results are — possibly for the presidency, but maybe for many other races that are important to people,” Weintraub said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Weintraub said that states will have far more mail-in ballots to tally and polling stations will be more difficult to staff because of fears of spreading COVID-19.

Mail-in voting is “absolutely” reliable, said Weintraub, noting that a quarter of all votes in the 2016 presidential election were mail-in ballots (which can also be dropped off at polling stations or in drop boxes, she pointed out).

But states are also desperately short of money for this year’s vote, when the logistics will be more expensive than ever, she noted.

“The states and localities are going to incur huge extra expenses this year in order to have the kind of ramped-up absentee voting program that the voters are demanding — but also to provide for safe in-person voting for those voters who choose to vote this way,” said Weintraub.

“What we need to do is get more resources to the states,” she added. “This is critically important and it has to happen now.”

The nonpartisan law and policy institute Brennan Center for Justice has estimated that there will be about $4 billion in extra costs involved in this election “as a result of the pandemic, and so far Congress has allocated about $400 million,” Weintraub said. “They really need to allocate more money now and I’m very concerned about this.”

Weintraub also warned of continuing attempts by foreign interests to influence or sabotage the presidential election. She told voters to be very cautious and vigilant about the spread of disinformation online.

“Just because some guy on the internet says something that sounds good to you, doesn’t mean that it is coming to you from a reputable source,” she said. “Some of those guys on the internet may in fact be Russian trolls or other foreign actors.”

Check out Weintraub’s interview in the video up top. She talks about counting votes on election night at 5:30.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story mistakenly described Commissioner Ellen Weintraub as the head of the FEC. She has chaired the commission in earlier years.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.