NBC has cleared its usual Tuesday night slate to focus on the 2020 presidential election this week. New episodes of both The Voice and This Is Us will be delayed, ceding their airtime to the historic race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Still, many critics believe this is a waste.
NBC News has gone all out with coverage, analyses and live reactions to every step in the election so far, and Election Day itself is no exception. The network's schedule currently shows two hours dedicated to "NBC News Special: Decision 2020 Election Night." While this may not be surprising given the importance of the election, some critics are saying it is a waste of air time, since the results of this year's election may not be known tonight. Additionally, some journalists argue that election coverage is not as complicated as TV news broadcasts make it out to be.
"U.S. journalists go into mega-overdrive but it is arguably the day that requires the least reporting," tweeted journalist and author Vincent Bevins. "All anyone really cares about is the final numbers on the scoreboard, so unless something unexpected comes up (violence, confusion, etc. - though I never saw any of that in 5 Brazilian elections), all journalists really have to do is post the results."
Additionally, this year's election night is likely to be even more anti-climactic because the results may take days or even weeks to tally, according to an Associated Press report. This is because many states have expanded their eligibility for mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic, and those votes take much longer to count.
Election officials cannot begin opening the double-sealed envelopes full of mail-in ballots until the polls close in some states. Logistically, that process takes time, so the counting of those votes could extend the wait. Three states with such rules are major swing states in this election: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
According to AP, it is possible that election results could be legitimately determined on election night — of other swing states overwhelming vote for one side or the other. However, in an election this close, that may be unlikely. Instead, experts say that Americans should be prepared to wait a while to find out who their next president is.