Let’s collect some data; although, it’ll take State by State legislation to set the capability.
There’s concern about late-arriving ballots, especially in close elections, and their meaning—actual votes cast and why they were late to be found or delivered to the counting facility.
This occurs with in-person voting as voting stations are delayed in producing their results, but it’s mostly a problem with mailed ballots, whether absentee ballots that must be explicitly requested by the voter—who must also prove he is who he says he is and that he’s eligible to vote in that jurisdiction—or universally mailed-out ballots to a voter registration list that is often inaccurate or that has no longer current or deliverable addresses. In both of these cases, ballots must be mailed back to the jurisdiction’s counting facility.
Here are the data to be collected and how they should be collected.
Set a State-wide deadline for State or national elections, or a local deadline for strictly local elections, by which cast ballots must be counted. The vote tally as of that deadline would constitute the official tally that the State’s election official must certify.
Continue receiving and counting ballots after that date, but don’t include them in the official results. Instead, publicize their lateness, why they’re late—or the reasons offered by those who delivered the ballots too late—what the vote count is for each of the candidates in these too-late ballots, and whether any of those ballots would have been disqualified anyway, had they arrived on time (signature mismatch, ineligibility of the voter, incorrectly filled out ballot, etc), and who delivered the ballots—vote harvesters, post office, etc.
These data would be illuminating.