When We Can Expect Election Results

States with competitive Senate races in 2022

States called later

WI Next day

MI Next day

NC 10 days

GA 16 days

But eight states took longer. Six of them — all but Alaska and Michigan — have competitive Senate races this year that could determine the balance of power in Congress.

While Tuesday’s election will not follow the exact same patterns, some of the same factors could extend the release of results until later into the week. That means we may again have to wait until after Election Day to know the outcome in some of the most competitive states. Here’s how vote reporting unfolded in 2020:

The longer wait for results in 2020 contributed to false claims that the election had been stolen from President Trump. In reality, the counting of an unprecedented volume of mail ballots in conjunction with very close races meant that it took longer than usual to project winners.

There are a few reasons why Tuesday’s election will differ from the one in 2020. It’s a midterm year, which generally produces lower voter turnout than a presidential election. In part because of the lifted Covid restrictions, many states expect a smaller share of ballots cast by mail, which often take longer to count than those cast in person and sometimes are allowed to arrive days after the election. Also, it’s difficult to predict which races will be decided by the final ballots.

Still, some factors remain the same. Republican-led legislatures in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have resisted entreaties from local election officials to allow mail ballots to be processed earlier. And extremely close races can trigger automatic recounts or runoff elections. If control of the Senate comes down to the race in Georgia, for example, we may not know the outcome until a Dec. 6 runoff.

The Times relies primarily on a team of analysts and researchers at The Associated Press to make race calls, which happens when a trailing candidate no longer has a path to victory. Sometimes winners are projected in races in which only a small share of votes have been reported. These early calls can be made if the race is not closely contested, or if the party or candidate has a history of consistent wins in the county or state. The calls could also be based on results from a pre-election survey.

The Times asked officials in every state and Washington, D.C., about their expectations for this year and what, if any, rules have changed since 2020 that could affect vote counting and reporting. Many noted that vote counts are not official until they are certified in each state.

States with competitive Senate races

Competitive races include those rated as tossups, lean Democrat or lean Republican as of Nov. 7.

Arizona

Last polls close at 9 p.m. Eastern

Competitive congressional races

Senate, House (3 districts)

Timing of results

Like in 2020, most people are expected to vote early — by mail, in-person or by drop box. Those ballots require the verification of voters’ signatures, and officials say the timing of results will depend on how many people return their ballots at the last minute on Election Day. No results are released until 10 p.m. Eastern.

How vote counting progressed in 2020

Race called 9 days later

6 p.m.,
Nov. 3

Midnight

Noon,
Nov. 4

82% rpt.

Colorado

Last polls close at 9 p.m. Eastern

Competitive congressional races

Senate, House (1 district)

Timing of results

Officials did not comment on the timing of results, but there have been no rule changes since 2020 that would be likely to affect ballot counting. Most voters cast mail ballots, which must arrive by Election Day. Counties must upload results at least once by 10 p.m. Eastern and again by 11 p.m. Eastern.

How vote counting progressed in 2020

Race call

6 p.m.,
Nov. 3

Midnight

Noon,
Nov. 4

90% rpt.

Georgia

Last polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern

Competitive congressional races

Senate

Timing of results

Officials expect that results will be reported faster than in 2020 because fewer people are voting by mail. There’s a possibility that the high-profile Senate race won’t be decided until a Dec. 6 runoff election, which will be triggered if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote.

How vote counting progressed in 2020

Race called 16 days later

6 p.m.,
Nov. 3

Midnight

Noon,
Nov. 4

95% rpt.

Nevada

Last polls close at 10 p.m. Eastern

Competitive congressional races

Senate, House (3 districts)

Timing of results

While officials said it could take awhile for counties to begin uploading results after the polls close, they did not make predictions for the pace of reporting. (In 2020, it took three days for 90 percent of the vote to be reported.) The state conducts a predominately mail-ballot election, and while ballots must still be postmarked by Election Day, they now have four days to arrive (until Nov. 12), instead of the seven days allowed in 2020.

How vote counting progressed in 2020

Race called 4 days later

6 p.m.,
Nov. 3

Midnight

Noon,
Nov. 4

85% rpt.

New Hampshire

Last polls close at 8 p.m. Eastern

Competitive congressional races

Senate, House (2 districts)

Timing of results

A smaller share of voters is expected to vote by mail because concern about Covid-19 is no longer an accepted reason. Still, officials expect the timing of reporting to be similar to 2020, with full unofficial results by Wednesday.

How vote counting progressed in 2020

Race call

6 p.m.,
Nov. 3

Midnight

Noon,
Nov. 4

76% rpt.

North Carolina

Last polls close at 7:30 p.m. Eastern

Competitive congressional races

Senate, House (1 district)

Timing of results

State officials expect a quick pace of reporting, similar to 2020. The deadline for mail ballots postmarked by Election Day to arrive was shortened to 6 days from 9 days in 2020, and officials expect a smaller share of voters to vote by mail.

How vote counting progressed in 2020

Race called 10 days later

6 p.m.,
Nov. 3

Midnight

Noon,
Nov. 4

99% rpt.

Ohio

Last polls close at 7:30 p.m. Eastern

Competitive congressional races

Senate, House (3 districts)

Timing of results

No predictions were provided for the pace of reporting. Mail ballots must be postmarked by the day before the election and have 10 days to arrive.

How vote counting progressed in 2020

Race call

6 p.m.,
Nov. 3

Midnight

Noon,
Nov. 4

96% rpt.

Pennsylvania

Last polls close at 8 p.m. Eastern

Competitive congressional races

Senate, House (3 districts)

How vote counting progressed in 2020

Race called 4 days later

6 p.m.,
Nov. 3

Midnight

Noon,
Nov. 4

82% rpt.

Wisconsin

Last polls close at 9 p.m. Eastern

Competitive congressional races

Senate

Timing of results

Officials may not begin processing mail ballots until Election Day, and officials have said that vote counting may take until the morning after the election. Early returns could give a misleading impression of a large Republican advantage before all mail ballots are counted.

How vote counting progressed in 2020

Race called 1 day later

6 p.m.,
Nov. 3

Midnight

Noon,
Nov. 4

100% rpt.

Original Source