In case you didn’t notice, there’s an election going on in the U.S. right now. Despite President Trump calling for votes to stop being counted, that is very much not the case in Philadelphia. If you need proof, the Philadelphia City Commissioners has been live-streaming the ballot counting process the entire time.
Now, being the day after the election, there isn’t too much action going on. Be sure to check the video again once the livestream has finished to see the organised chaos of ballot-counting. It’s oddly calming to watch.
Philadelphia’s votes contribute to the state of Pennsylvania which, at the time of writing, still hasn’t been called. Pennsylvania is one of the biggest swing states in the election thus far with 20 electoral college votes on the line.
How Ballot Counting Works
Wired has a breakdown of exactly what you’re looking at. Apparently, as long as ballots are postmarked by November 3, they can continue to be processed through Friday. Towards the back of the room, you may see voters lifting up papers to examine them in the light. This is to verify the voter’s signature.
The pandemic has seen an upsurge in mail-in ballots this year, which voting centres have special high-speed extracting machines to remove the ballots from envelopes. Ballots go through this process twice, once for the initial envelope and then for the privacy envelope, which voters sign. Ballots then get sorted according to which division in Philadelphia they are from and are split across yellow bins.
Election workers then take the ballots and run them through a high-speed scanner, which Philadelphia has 12 of. You can see the scanners towards the front of the room. They analyse each vote and record data to a USB. The ballots are then packed into boxes and filed away. How cool is voting?
Right now, at the tail end of the count, you can mainly see the pack-down and removal of counted votes. But during the height of the count, it was all methodical madness. Pennsylvania has counted over six million votes so far, which has required staff to work around the clock.
For all the fear around voter fraud in the U.S., this video makes it clear how logical and clean the process is. The ballot counting process is also open to the public by law, so voters can enter and see their ballot being counted. But this has been banned due to COVID-19 this year. Hence, we have this glorious livestream.