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Up for the count: Election workers toil away in Pennsylvania

The Associated Press
Demonstrators stand outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center where votes are being counted, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

HARRISBURG — Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow but growing margin in the presidential race drew him closer to winning Pennsylvania’s cache of 20 electoral votes as teams of ballot counters in some counties resumed their toil into the weekend.

The canvassing that in a normal year would have wrapped up Friday will carry into next week, with many counties waiting until Monday to begin going through provisional ballots.

Tens of thousands of remaining mail-in ballots — as well as the provisional ballots and those cast by military and overseas voters — will decide whether Biden's slim lead holds up or if Republican President Donald Trump can find the votes he needs to repeat his 2016 victory in the state.

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Starting to count provisional ballots on Monday, some counties decided, will help ensure that they can include all valid mail-in votes arriving by Friday that were sent on or before Election Day. Philadelphia officials said Friday that process may take several days.

Fewer than 100,000 mail-in ballots remain to be counted across the state.

In Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, the crew worked through lunch Friday, counting and sorting ballots. Officials were unsure when their count would be complete, but Allegheny County spokesperson Amie Downs said it would resume Saturday morning. Philadelphia counters also planned to count more ballots Saturday.

Pennsylvania elections officials were not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law, and those ballots have skewed heavily in Biden’s favor after Trump spent months claiming without proof that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

There’s another possibility that could delay the results. If there is less than a half-percentage point difference between Biden’s and Trump’s vote totals, state law dictates that a recount must be held.

Under state law, counties must submit unofficial returns to the state on Tuesday and, after a period to allow for recounts, certify their results to the state on Nov. 23.