The rules for counting absentee ballots do not have exceptions for "so many other ballots have already been counted that these votes are irrelevant"
Those ballots were all counted by Dec 5, 2000
Aides to Jones said they expect most of the absentee and provisional ballots to be counted in the next week. Legally, counties have until Dec. 5 to present final tallies.
All of the votes counted by Dec 5th were indeed counted, but not all the votes cast for President were actually counted.
How about thisAre absentee ballots counted?
from these folks Vote.org
Vote.org are not election officials, they are a private organization and don’t make or enforce election law.
Just curious, can you link me a state statue that says absentee ballots don't have to be counted if there aren't enough to sway the election?
To answer your question...
I don't know the rules in all the states, but California moved to close this gap in a proposition in 2001 and voted upon in 2002 called Proposition 43.
In it, they mandate that all votes count as long as they are done legally.
This includes absentee votes.
Many saw it as an effort to stop the same thing from happening in California as happened in Florida.
Whether this idea is true for all states, I don't know presently. In many ways, it could be that the traditional way of absentee which is accepted by many is no longer in effect and all states have taken a similar approach.
We will start with the California law-
1. The Law Prior to Proposition 43
California law provides that a United States citizen of at least 18 years of age and resident in this State may vote. Cal. Const. art. II, § 2. California law also provides that the Legislature shall define residence and provide for registration and free elections. Cal. Const. art. II, § 3. However, while the California Constitution recognizes the right to vote if certain conditions are met, neither the United States Constitution nor the California Constitution expressly guarantee that those votes will be counted.
Specifically, this measure provides that if a post-election deadline imposed by the Elections Code prevents the proper tabulation or recounting of ballots, the county elections official may petition the superior court for an extension of that deadline sufficient to permit the tabulation or recounting of ballots. (Id.) The court may grant the petition if it finds that the time limitation would prevent the counting of all votes as required by the proposed amendments to the Constitution. (Id.)
Proposition 43 purports to create voter confidence in California elections by assuring California voters that their vote will not be bypassed due to time constraints and statutory deadlines. (Id.) Proposition 43 gives the process of counting ballots a higher degree of importance than other statutory deadlines and obligations.
Simply put, California proposition 43 was a measure to put higher priority to vote counting, which is a legal requirement, than vote reporting deadlines, which is another legal requirement.
The passing of that proposition, in and of itself, backs up what I initially said…that some votes are not counted because they don’t matter, for the additional specified reason which I did not mention…because of time constraints and to meet statutory deadlines.
Does every state have something like California’s Prop 43? No they don’t.
Moving on to the federal government…
In practice, elections for local, state, and federal office are conducted primarily by local election officials in the nation's counties, parishes, and independent cities or townships. These local election officials, in most states, exercise broad authority. Despite their relative autonomy, these local election officials are bound by their respective state statutes regarding the conduct of elections. These statutes include the manner in which votes are to be counted. At a minimum, the county’s obligation to count and report the vote accurately, and in an objective and impartial manner, is implicit if not explicit in law.
Note the key word accurately.
1) free from error especially as the result of care 2) conforming exactly to truth or to a standard 3) able to give an accurate result
Local election officials have “broad authority” and “relative autonomy”. The count and report of the vote must be accurate.
But the word missing from the federal government’s page that would incorporate counting every last vote even when it doesn’t matter is the word precise.
1) exactly or sharply defined or stated 2) minutely exact
A precise count is also an accurate count, but an accurate count is not necessarily a precise count.
The bottom line is, local election officials cut corners when it doesn’t matter. The vote has to be accurate, it doesn’t have to be precise. Although I will concede California has an explicit incentive to prioritize counting every last vote this year than it did in 2000, so Hillary and Donald’s California vote totals are going to be much more precise than the California totals in 2000.
If the popular vote for the Presidential election actually mattered, then the count for it would have to be precise. Since it doesn't matter, the popular vote is just accurate enough for each state to be correct for assigning those electors to a candidate. No one is checking up on local election officials to make sure their popular vote counts are precise.