When Do Polls Close? When Should We Expect Election Results?

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PUBLISHED Oct. 30, 2020, at 12:00 PM

A complete guide to poll closing times, vote counting and races to watch on election night 2020

There’s a good chance we won’t know who won the presidential election on election night. More people than ever are voting by mail this year due to the pandemic, and mail ballots take longer to count than ballots cast at polling places. But because each state has its own rules for how votes are counted and reported, some will report results sooner than others. Those disparate rules may also make initial returns misleading: The margins in some states may shift toward Democrats as mail ballots (which are overwhelmingly cast by Democrats) are counted, while states that release mail ballots first may experience a shift toward Republicans as Election Day votes are tallied.

Here’s a general picture of how much of the vote we expect to be counted on election night in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. If you click on a given state, it’ll take you to a more detailed description of when to expect results and whether to expect a red or blue shift in the vote count.

How much of the vote is expected to be counted on election night?

Nearly allMost but not allOnly some

Ark.Ark.Tenn.Tenn.Ga.Ga.Miss.Miss.Fla.Fla.IdahoIdahoN.D.N.D.Minn.Minn.Ill.Ill.N.Y.N.Y.Pa.Pa.Nev.Nev.Ind.Ind.Colo.Colo.Va.Va.Calif.Calif.Mo.Mo.W. Va.W. Va.Md.Md.D.C.D.C.Wis.Wis.N.M.N.M.S.C.S.C.Ariz.Ariz.Kan.Kan.N.C.N.C.Okla.Okla.La.La.Ala.Ala.AlaskaAlaskaHawaiiHawaiiTexasTexasMont.Mont.Wash.Wash.Mich.Mich.Mass.Mass.N.J.N.J.Wyo.Wyo.Ore.Ore.S.D.S.D.IowaIowaOhioOhioConn.Conn.R.I.R.I.UtahUtahNeb.Neb.Ky.Ky.Del.Del.Vt.Vt.N.H.N.H.MaineMaine

The upshot for the presidential race is that we should have a pretty good idea of where things are headed on election night, even if no candidate is able to clinch 270 electoral votes (which is the threshold required to win) until later in the week. We should get near-complete results in Florida in a matter of hours; Arizona and North Carolina will release the vast majority of their ballots very quickly, although if the race is too close to call they may not provide a final answer for days. Georgia and Texas should tally most ballots on Nov. 3, but counting may stretch into Wednesday or Thursday. We should know the winner in Wisconsin by Wednesday morning; Michigan and Pennsylvania, by contrast, will probably take until the end of the week.

Of course, there are a lot more races on the ballot than just the presidential contest, so read on to get a more detailed picture of every state. One last caveat before you dive in: These are just our best guesses based on what we know right now. Things can always go sideways thanks to human error or technological failures. And, of course, even the fastest-counting state may leave a race uncalled for days if the margin is close enough.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

Senate

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Should be pretty fast. A relatively small percentage of people are voting by mail in Alabama, which should help in getting results quickly. The secretary of state says the results will be known on election night.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Nearly all absentee ballots are expected to be counted at roughly the same time as in-person votes, so there probably won’t be a noticeable blue or red shift.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

1 a.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

President, Senate, House

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Timing of results

Get ready to wait. Election Day votes and early votes cast by Oct. 29 should be counted on election night, but the remainder of the early vote, as well as all absentee votes, won’t even begin to be counted until Nov. 10. With so many people voting absentee, it will probably take a week or two to declare winners here. Counting should be complete by Nov. 18.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Initial results in Alaska will probably be skewed toward Republicans since no mail ballots will be included in those totals. A blue shift could occur as absentee ballots are counted Nov. 10-18; however, absentee ballots here may not be quite as good for Democrats as they are in other states because Alaska mailed absentee-ballot applications to all voters age 65 and older, and older voters are more likely to vote Republican.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President; Senate; 1st and 6th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Most votes should be counted on election night, but full results may take a few days. Early and absentee votes cast by the weekend before the election should be pre-counted and those results are expected to be released shortly after 10 p.m. Eastern (the earliest time results can be reported in Arizona, under state law). Election Day votes are also expected to be announced on election night. Together, these two categories are expected to constitute the vast majority of Arizona’s total votes. However, absentee ballots received at the last minute will not be reported until perhaps Thursday or Friday. So if it’s a close race, we might have to wait for those last few ballots before knowing who won.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

The very first batch of results on election night is expected to be early and absentee votes, which will likely lean Democratic. Then, the results may shift toward Republicans later in the evening as Election Day votes are counted. However, they may then shift back toward Democrats in the days after the election as the last few absentee ballots are tallied.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8:30 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

2nd Congressional District

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Timing of results

We probably won’t have to wait long. A spokesman for the secretary of state told Genesis Brand they are hopeful that Arkansas will have “pretty firm unofficial results at the end of the night,” although this year’s influx of absentee ballots makes the timing difficult to predict.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Early and absentee votes are the first ones released, so initial results could be skewed slightly toward Democrats.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

11 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

1st, 4th, 10th, 21st, 25th, 39th, 42nd, 45th, 48th and 50th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

As a state with a long tradition of mail voting, California has always taken a long time to report full results. Expect the same this year: We’ll get some results on election night, but ballots will continue to come in for weeks afterward (the state accepts ballots that arrive as late as Nov. 20). However, a new law allowing mail ballots to be processed earlier hopefully means more results than usual will be ready on election night.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Most counties report (Democratic-leaning) early and mail votes cast by the weekend before Election Day first, then (Republican-leaning) in-person Election Day votes in the wee hours of Wednesday. But historically, late-arriving mail ballots have added several points to Democrats’ margins in the weeks after Election Day.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

Senate, 3rd Congressional District

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Timing of results

We should know the winners here on Nov. 3. Colorado has been voting by mail for years with a rule that ballots must be received (not postmarked!) by Election Day, and the state has never had trouble reporting near-complete results on election night.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Given that almost everyone votes by mail in Colorado, there shouldn’t be much of a partisan split by vote method.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

No major races

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Timing of results

We don’t have a great sense of the timing here — results could come anywhere from election night to a few days later. Initial tallies must be released by midnight Eastern, but these don’t have to be complete. And there could be regional differences in counting speed. A spokesman for the secretary of state told Genesis Brand that small towns may be done counting on election night, but larger municipalities probably won’t have final results until at least Wednesday. Some places are even cautioning that they might need until Monday, Nov. 9, to count every vote.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Initial returns will include all Election Day results and as much of the absentee vote as has been tabulated so far. If absentee votes are still being counted later in the week, though, it could produce a small blue shift.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

No major races

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Timing of results

We should get near-complete results on election night as usual. Although Delaware has seen a surge in absentee voting this year, officials are expected to report all of those absentees alongside precinct results on Nov. 3.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

None expected; absentee and in-person votes should be released simultaneously.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

No major races

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Timing of results

It’s going to take a while. The District is mailing ballots to all voters for the first time this year, and the ones that are mailed back can arrive at election offices as late as Nov. 13 (as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day). While some mail and in-person vote totals will be released on election night, officials say they will still be counting for weeks after.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Washington, D.C., is strongly Democratic-leaning, so even if there is a blue shift, it will probably go unnoticed.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

President; 15th, 16th, 18th, 26th and 27th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Should be very fast. Florida is accustomed to handling a heavy volume of mail ballots and has laws (like letting counties process absentee ballots weeks in advance and not accepting most ballots that arrive after Election Day) that encourage an early count. In other words, results should be nearly complete within a couple hours of polls closing. That said, counties are allowed to take their time if needed, so some larger counties may still be tabulating mail ballots on Wednesday or later. That means that if a race is close, we might not know who won on election night.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

The first batch of results, consisting of early votes and pre-tabulated mail ballots, is due to the secretary of state within 30 minutes of polls closing and will probably be skewed toward Democrats. Expect a red shift as Election Day votes are reported, however. If there are still mail ballots being counted on Wednesday or later, though, that could lead to a late blue shift.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

7 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

President; Senate (two seats); 6th and 7th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Should be relatively quick. Counties were allowed to start processing absentee ballots on Oct. 19, and only ballots mailed from overseas may arrive after Nov. 3. “For races that aren’t too close, we’ll have those results” on election night, the secretary of state told WSB-TV. “For the races that are very, very close, we believe that we’ll have them by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest.”

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Hard to say. Each county treats absentee votes differently, and with (Democratic-leaning) absentee votes being reported at different times throughout the state, it’s possible we’ll see some miniature red and blue shifts on the county level, which may cancel each other out statewide.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

Midnight Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

No major races

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Extremely fast. According to state election officials, about 90 percent of all votes will be announced immediately after polls close — speed made possible by the fact that ballots are due by Nov. 3 at the latest and can be processed as soon as they arrive. A second batch of ballots is scheduled to be released at 3 a.m. Eastern.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Hawaii is pretty Democratic-leaning so it probably won’t matter much, but the second batch of ballots to report on election night will include in-person votes, so it might nudge the margins a bit toward Republicans.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

11 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

No major races

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

A bit longer than usual, but still pretty quick. Despite many polling places in the state closing at 10 p.m. Eastern, no results will be posted until the last polls close at 11 p.m. Eastern, and election officials say “meaningful” results will take a few hours. However, counting should be nearly complete by Wednesday morning.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Unclear. About half of counties combine absentee votes with Election Day ballots and report them together; the others report them separately, but we don’t know yet if one batch will consistently come out before the other.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

6th, 13th and 14th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Most votes should be counted quickly, but the rest will take time. Because absentee ballots can be processed as soon as they arrive, tallies of those received and prepped for counting before Election Day (as well as all in-person votes) should be released on election night. However, Illinois’s Nov. 17 deadline for receiving absentee ballots means results will not be complete for around two weeks. Some counties are planning to release updated results every day during that time, while others may only update once or twice. Thankfully, the state will report the number of unreturned mail ballots throughout, so we’ll know whether there are enough ballots outstanding to sway the election. So far, officials say that enough absentee voters are returning their ballots early that the election-night results should give us a “fairly clear picture.”

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Democrats will likely gain as late-arriving absentee ballots are counted Nov. 4-17. A few counties may also see a red shift on election night because they release absentee ballots first, followed by Election Day returns; however, most counties release absentee and precinct returns simultaneously.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

7 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President, 5th Congressional District

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Timing of results

It’ll probably take a few days. Absentee ballots can’t be processed until Election Day, and two big counties (both of which are in the 5th District) say they will only have time to count a fraction of those votes on Tuesday. However, Indiana won’t have as many absentee votes to count as other states, and other counties say they’ll have no problem reporting full results on election night.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

The days after Election Day will probably see a blue shift as counties work through their remaining absentee ballots. On election night itself, some counties may see a red shift if absentee votes are reported first and Election Day votes trickle in later. However, most counties combine their absentee and Election Day votes.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

10 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President; Senate; 1st, 2nd and 3rd congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Most votes will be counted quickly, but some will continue to trickle in after Election Day. Thanks to a new rule allowing for earlier processing of absentee ballots, election officials are confident that ballots received by Election Day will be counted that night, although they are also leaving open the possibility that the high volume will make that impossible. However, Iowa law also requires officials to count mail ballots that arrive by Nov. 9 (as long they’re postmarked by Nov. 2), so results won’t be final for about a week. The question is how many ballots will arrive at the last minute.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Late-arriving mail ballots will probably skew Democratic, producing a blue shift in the days after Nov. 3.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

Senate, 2nd Congressional District

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Timing of results

Most votes should be counted on election night, but the remainder will take a few days. The state has handled high volumes of advance votes in the past and it tallied results quickly during the primary. However, mail ballots are allowed to arrive as late as Friday and still count, which could make the difference in a close race. Additional vote totals will be announced once per day Nov. 4-6.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Most counties release mail votes first (although about one-third intermingle them with Election Day votes), which means initial results may be too good to be true for Democrats. Expect a red shift as election night wears on. However, the mail votes released later in the week may nudge margins back toward Democrats.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

7 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

6th Congressional District

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Timing of results

Election officials estimate that unofficial results could be as much as 90 percent complete on election night. However, absentee ballots can continue arriving until Nov. 6, so the last 10 percent will take some time.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Unknown. It’s unclear whether mail or in-person votes will be released first.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

No major races

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

It looks like it could be pretty fast, although officials are keeping expectations low. Louisiana is one of only five states that are not allowing everyone to vote by mail, so most votes should be cast in person and thus would likely be totaled at the usual time on election night. Absentee votes should all be counted on Nov. 3 too, but the secretary of state is nevertheless warning not to expect full results that night.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Minimal, if any. Absentee and early in-person votes are typically released together as the first “precinct” of the night. However, because not everyone is allowed to vote absentee, it’s not clear if absentee votes will be as Democratic-leaning as they are in other states — plus, they’ll be combined with early votes anyway.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President, Senate

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Most results should be known on Nov. 3 — but there’s a catch. Maine uses ranked-choice voting for federal offices, and if a candidate fails to win a majority of first-place votes, officials will need to count up voters’ second choices, third choices and so on — a process that takes place days after Election Day. Otherwise, Maine’s recent extension of the absentee-ballot processing period has made local officials optimistic that they will count every ballot on election night, although smaller towns sound surer about that than larger cities like Portland.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Maine combines absentee votes with Election Day ones, so there shouldn’t be either a red or blue shift.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

No major races

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Complete results will take more than a week. A monthlong head start in processing absentee ballots should help make sure a greater share of the results will be known on election night than were initially released in the snail’s-pace primary — but absentee ballots aren’t due until Nov. 13, so the state will continue to count and update the vote totals for at least 10 days after Election Day.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

On election night, Maryland will release counts of early votes, mail votes that have already been tallied, and then Election Day votes. Then, the remaining mail ballots will be counted over the next 10 days. As a result, Maryland could see a blue shift followed by a red shift on election night, then a slow-motion blue shift in the following days.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

No major races

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Most votes will be counted on Nov. 3; the remainder will be tallied over the weekend. With election officials allowed to process mail ballots earlier than usual, mail ballots received by Nov. 3 will be counted at the same time as in-person votes. Mail ballots received Nov. 4-6, however, will not be counted until after 5 p.m. on Nov. 6. Most cities and towns will count those ballots between Nov. 6 and Nov. 9.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

It’s unclear whether mail or in-person votes will be released first on election night, but the final vote update over the weekend should consist purely of late-arriving mail ballots, so it’ll likely be good for Democrats.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President; Senate; 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th and 11th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

It’s going to take a few days. The earliest absentee ballots can be processed is Nov. 2, which likely does not leave enough time to count them all by election night. The secretary of state estimates that it could take until Friday, Nov. 6, for all ballots to be counted and a winner to be declared.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Margins will probably shift toward Democrats in the days after Nov. 3 as mail votes are added to the results.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President; Senate; 1st, 2nd, 7th and 8th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Most, but not all, results should be in on election night. With two weeks of advance absentee-ballot processing, votes in the state’s possession should be quickly tallied on Nov. 3. The secretary of state has warned that close races may take a while to call, but “it’s far more likely that we’ll have winners, outcomes either on election night or shortly thereafter.”

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Any absentee votes counted after Election Day could cause results to shift in Democrats’ favor.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President, Senate

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

We should know most results on Nov. 3. Since Mississippi still requires people to have an excuse to vote absentee, there won’t be a lot of absentee ballots to count, and election night should look pretty normal. However, it will take some time to count all the absentee ballots that are submitted: They can arrive as late as Nov. 10, and even the ones that arrive early can’t be processed before Nov. 3.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Probably none worth writing home about. Absentee and precinct votes are typically combined and released together on election night, and the number of late-arriving absentee ballots will likely be very small.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President, 2nd Congressional District, governor

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Should be pretty fast. Election officials are confident that near-complete returns will be released on election night.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

There will probably be a red shift. Most counties release (Democratic-leaning) mail and absentee ballots first, followed by (Republican-leaning) Election Day votes later in the evening.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

10 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President, Senate, House, governor

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

We shouldn’t have to wait long. Montana is accustomed to lots of people voting by mail and is expected to count nearly all absentee ballots on Election Day.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Counties vary in whether they release mail or in-person votes first, or release both together, so it’s hard to know if there will be either a red or blue shift.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President (in 2nd Congressional District), 2nd Congressional District

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Should be quick. Nebraska (where several counties vote by mail even in normal elections) allows absentee ballots to be counted early and requires regular absentee ballots to arrive by Election Day. As a result, “the results will be known in Nebraska on election night,” the secretary of state says.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

The first results reported in most counties will be early votes, cast both in person and by mail. Election Day results will follow, potentially shifting the margins toward Republicans.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

10 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President, 3rd and 4th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Hard to say. Nevada is one of a handful of states that is mailing a ballot to every active registered voter for the first time, and it is only requiring that ballots be mailed back by Nov. 3, not received by then. In other states, that’s been a recipe for slow results; indeed, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state told Politico not to wait up for a call on election night. However, the ability to count mail ballots early has put Clark County (home to 71 percent of the state’s voters) in position to report tallies of in-person votes and any mail ballots received by Nov. 2 on election night. If that happens, we might get most results on election night, though we’ll still have to wait until at least Nov. 10, when the state stops accepting mailed ballots, for full results.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

In other states, late-arriving mail ballots have historically trended Democratic, so don’t rule out a blue shift in the week after Election Day.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President, 1st Congressional District, governor

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Election night seems like a safe bet. Absentee voting is up in New Hampshire this year, but the vast majority of New Hampshire’s votes are expected to be cast in person, so results should be more or less complete on Nov. 3. “It might take a little bit longer than we’re normally used to, but they will be released by the end of the night,” the deputy secretary of state told the Granite State News Collaborative.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Absentee votes are reported together with Election Day results, so there will be no red or blue shift driven by vote method.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

2nd, 3rd and 7th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

It’s going to take weeks. While counties should release the first tranche of mail ballots on election night, they are allowed to stop counting at 11 p.m. Eastern and pick up again at 9 a.m. the following day. The state will continue counting mail ballots through at least Nov. 10, the deadline by which properly postmarked ballots must be received. Only then will they begin to count in-person votes, which in New Jersey will all be provisional ballots — meaning they must be checked to make sure the voter is eligible (i.e., didn’t already vote by mail) before they can be counted. With a healthy proportion of New Jerseyans expected to vote in person, we might not be able to call any competitive races until these ballots are counted. The ultimate deadline for counties to certify results is Nov. 20.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Votes counted Nov. 3-10 will be entirely mail ballots, so they may skew Democratic. The state may experience a red shift as in-person votes are tallied after that.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

Senate, 2nd Congressional District

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Timing of results

Most results should be known on election night, but there will be some lingering ballots the next day. Counties are required to stop counting absentee ballots at 1 a.m. Eastern time and resume on Wednesday morning. The secretary of state says the goal is to publish the “vast majority” of results on election night, but “there will, undoubtedly, be some more votes to be counted and included in the subsequent day or days.”

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Early votes and some absentee ballots will probably be among the first reported, which could mean margins shift toward Republicans as the night progresses and Election Day votes are tallied. But if more absentee votes are left to count on Wednesday or later, things could move back in Democrats’ direction.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

1st, 2nd, 11th, 19th, 21st, 22nd and 24th congressional districts

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Get ready to wait. While in-person votes (both those cast early and on Election Day) should be released on election night, the state will not even begin to count absentee ballots until Nov. 6. And that process can be time-consuming: Each absentee must be double-checked to ensure that its voter did not also vote in person. We could be in for a repeat of the June primary, when it took several weeks to get final results: The statutory deadline for certifying results is Nov. 28, but the New York City Board of Elections says it may not be done counting until Dec. 8-15.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Initial results (from in-person votes) will probably skew Republican. As absentee ballots are counted in the ensuing weeks, Democratic candidates will probably gain ground.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

7:30 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President; Senate; 1st, 8th, 9th and 11th congressional districts; governor

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Initial results will come very fast, but the rest will take time. Election officials estimate that up to 80 percent of the total vote could be announced right after polls close at 7:30 p.m., including in-person early votes and all mail ballots received by Nov. 2. Election Day returns will then trickle out over the course of the next several hours (those results are expected to take longer than usual because equipment must be sanitized after polling places close). However, North Carolina counts absentee ballots that arrive as late as Nov. 12, so there will definitely be some counting for at least nine days after Election Day. The question is whether there will be enough late-arriving ballots to keep any races uncalled.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

The first dump of results (which will be entirely mail and early votes) will probably be too good to be true for Democrats. A red shift will likely occur as Election Day votes are reported. However, late-arriving mail ballots may help Democrats claw their way back during the Nov. 4-12 count.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

No major races

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Expect timely, but not final, results on election night. The state has given officials extra time before Election Day to process absentee ballots, which they predict will help avoid delays. However, tabulation won’t be complete until Nov. 9, which is the last day ballots can arrive and still be counted.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Late-arriving absentee ballots may help Democrats close the gap in the week after Election Day.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

7:30 p.m. Eastern

Races to watch illustration

Races to watch

President; 1st, 10th and 12th congressional districts

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Timing of results

Most results will be announced quickly, but we’ll have to wait for the rest. By 8 p.m. Eastern, each county is required to announce the results of all absentee ballots (including early in-person votes) that were received by Election Day. Results from Election Day polling places will then follow throughout the night. However, Ohio also counts absentee ballots that arrive by mail until Nov. 13 — but counties will not announce those results until their official canvasses on Nov. 14-18 (interim results will not be reported). That said, counties will report the number of outstanding absentee ballots late on election night, so we will know whether there are enough ballots remaining to affect the winner of the election.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

The first results on election night (absentee ballots) will probably skew Democratic. Then, we’ll probably see a red shift as Republican-leaning Election Day votes are counted. Finally, the last vote dump on Nov. 14-18 (more absentee ballots) could benefit Democrats.

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Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

5th Congressional District

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Timing of results

Promptly on election night. Regular absentee ballots are due by Election Day and can be counted ahead of time — and the state isn’t expecting an overwhelming number of them anyway. Therefore, election officials told Genesis Brand they plan to have unofficial results ready on the night of Nov. 3.

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Shift in results

Early votes are usually the first to report, so initial votes may be fairly representative. Mail and Election Day results then follow, potentially producing a blue and red shift, respectively.

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Last polls close

11 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

4th Congressional District

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Timing of results

It’ll be a normal election night in Oregon, which has voted by mail in every election since 2000. Unlike some other vote-by-mail states, Oregon doesn’t accept ballots that arrive after Election Day, enabling it to have virtually all votes counted on election night.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Because almost everyone votes by mail in Oregon, there won’t be either a red or blue shift.

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Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

President; 1st, 8th, 10th and 17th congressional districts

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Timing of results

It’ll be slow going. Although around half of Pennsylvanians are expected to vote absentee, those ballots can’t start being processed until 7 a.m. on Nov. 3. Simply put, that’s not enough time for many counties to count them all before the day is over. (For example, Bucks County plans to count ballots 24 hours a day and still doesn’t expect to be done until the end of the week.) Some places aren’t even going to try; Cumberland and Erie counties, for instance, say they won’t count absentee ballots until they’re done with Election Day votes, which could be as late as Wednesday morning. And even counties that manage to count all the ballots in their possession on election night will have to wait until Nov. 6 — the deadline for most mail ballots to arrive — to consider their results complete. Overall, election officials estimate that “the overwhelming majority” of votes will be counted by Friday. That said, don’t rule out an even longer wait. During the June primary, about half of counties were still counting a week after the election. No matter what, we’ll definitely know the outcome by Nov. 23 — the deadline for counties to stop counting.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Election-night results are expected to be disproportionately made up of Election Day votes, which will probably skew Republican. Then, as absentee ballots are counted in the ensuing days, the state will probably experience a blue shift.

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Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

No major races

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Timing of results

Most, but not all, results will be known on election night. In the past, the state has waited until all mail ballots were counted and then released them all at once (usually a few days after the election), but this year they will release the first batch of mail ballots (those already in their possession; at least three-quarters of the total mail vote) at 11 p.m. on Nov. 3. The second batch, consisting of ballots left in drop boxes on Election Day, will be released sometime after close of business on Wednesday. Provisional ballots will be added on Thursday, and results will be finalized on Nov. 10, which is the deadline for mail voters who made mistakes to fix their ballots and for receiving ballots mailed from overseas.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Republicans will probably punch above their weight in the early evening, when Election Day votes are the only results we’ll have. However, Democrats should gain at 11 p.m. with the release of all those mail ballots, and with each subsequent vote drop as well.

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Last polls close

7 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

President; Senate; 1st and 2nd congressional districts

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Timing of results

Should be quick. A relatively small share of South Carolina voters will cast absentee ballots, and election officials can start processing those ballots Nov. 1 and counting them at 7 a.m. on Election Day. As a result, the state election commission is expecting full results on election night or, at worst, the day after.

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Shift in results

Absentee ballots are all or part of the first report in most counties, so initial returns could be overly friendly to Democrats. There could be a red shift as precinct votes are tallied.

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Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

President

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Timing of results

Most results will be ready on election night, with the likely exception of one county. Although polls in much of the state close at 8 p.m. Eastern, no results will be released until 9 p.m. Eastern, when the last of the polls close. The secretary of state says he’s confident that most votes will be counted on election night itself, but officials in the state’s largest county say to expect a “two-day deal.” (Translation: They plan to let workers go home for the night and finish counting on Wednesday.)

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Absentee ballots are merged with other votes from their home precincts, lowering the possibility for a red or blue shift over time.

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Last polls close

8 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

No major races

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Timing of results

Should be pretty fast. We’re expecting almost all absentee ballots to be counted on election night, along with the usual complement of in-person votes. Election officials predict that most counties, including the state’s two largest, will wrap up their tabulation by midnight.

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Shift in results

Most counties release absentee votes first, which could lead to a red shift later in the evening. Others, however, intermingle absentee and polling-place votes.

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Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

President; Senate; 3rd, 6th, 7th, 10th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 31st and 32nd congressional districts

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Timing of results

The bulk of the results will be known on election night. Early votes, Election Day votes and (thanks to a generous ballot-processing window) absentee ballots received by 7 p.m. local time on Nov. 3 will all be counted that night, which should give us a pretty clear picture of the state of the races there. However, domestic absentee ballots are allowed to arrive as late as 5 p.m. local time on Wednesday, which could add a fair number of ballots to the hopper.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

In most counties, absentee and early in-person votes are the first to report; these could be disproportionately good for Democrats. When Election Day votes are reported, expect Republicans to gain. Finally, absentee ballots that arrive on Wednesday could give Democrats a small boost.

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Last polls close

10 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

4th Congressional District

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Timing of results

Get comfortable; it’ll be a while. Even under normal circumstances, Utah is one of the states where we have to wait the longest to get results (in 2018, the 4th District race dragged on for two weeks). That’s because counties accept (properly postmarked) mail ballots that arrive at any time before the county canvass, which can be as long as two weeks after Election Day. Therefore, don’t expect complete results here until at least Nov. 17.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

In other states, late-arriving mail ballots tend to favor Democrats; however, that hasn’t always been the case in Utah.

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Last polls close

7 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

No major races

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Timing of results

Shouldn’t be a delay. Although Vermont has morphed into a vote-by-mail state this year, it also gave clerks far more time to process those mail ballots and mandated that they arrive by Election Day. As a result, the secretary of state anticipates that results will come out on election night as normal.

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Shift in results

Absentee votes are reported together with Election Day votes, so the order in which ballots are counted shouldn’t produce either a red or blue shift.

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Last polls close

7 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

1st, 2nd, 5th and 7th congressional districts

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Timing of results

Most votes should be counted on election night, but the rest will take a few days. Since localities can process absentee ballots as soon as they receive them, officials should be able to promptly report all or most ballots that arrive before Nov. 3. However, a fair number of mail ballots may arrive between Nov. 3 and the state’s receipt deadline of Nov. 6, and they can’t be fully counted until the end of the week. One county even says it may need the weekend to add those ballots to its tally.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Late-arriving absentee ballots could shift margins toward Democrats in the days after Nov. 3.

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Last polls close

11 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

3rd Congressional District

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Timing of results

Get ready to wait. Even before the pandemic, we’ve become accustomed to delayed results in this vote-by-mail state where ballots are allowed to arrive as late as Nov. 23. We’ll get a few initial vote dumps on election night itself, but the many ballots that arrive on Nov. 3 or later will not be counted until later. After Election Day, counties must release updated vote totals at the end of each day.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Although almost everyone in Washington votes by mail, late-arriving ballots can favor Democrats; if that happens again this year, the party could improve its margins in the days after Election Day.

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Last polls close

7:30 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

Governor

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Timing of results

Most ballots should be counted quickly, but some will come in the following week. A spokeswoman for the secretary of state told Genesis Brand that the state would report unofficial results on the usual schedule on election night. However, West Virginia accepts absentee ballots that arrive up to Nov. 9, and none of these late-arriving votes will be counted until the last day of that window. So if there are any uncalled races on election night, we’ll have to wait almost a week to resolve them.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Most counties combine absentee votes with Election Day ones, so there shouldn’t be a red or blue shift.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

President, 3rd Congressional District

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Timing of results

It may take all night, but we should have all results by Wednesday morning. Despite not being able to process absentee ballots until Election Day (which originally stoked fears of a delayed count), many counties say they will be able to count everything on election night: Washington County plans to have all results by 10:30 p.m. Eastern; Kenosha, Sheboygan and Fond du Lac by 1 a.m. Eastern; Waukesha County by 4 a.m. Eastern; and Milwaukee County sometime between 4 and 7 a.m. Eastern. The governor has predicted that we will know the outcome of the election “hopefully that night and maybe at the latest the very next day.”

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Most municipalities count absentee and Election Day votes together, but others — including Milwaukee — count them separately and may release absentee votes all at once toward the end of the night, which could nudge races toward Democrats.

Last polls close illustration

Last polls close

9 p.m. Eastern

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Races to watch

No major races

Timing of results illustration

Timing of results

Should be speedy. Having been given extra time to process absentee ballots, clerks are expected to tally nearly all votes on election night itself.

Shift in results illustration

Shift in results

Most counties combine absentee votes with precinct results, decreasing the likelihood that things will shift toward one party or another as the night wears on.

Connie Chu

Connie is the visionary leader behind the news team here at Genesis Brand. She's devoted her life to perfecting her craft and delivering the news that people want and need to hear with no holds barred. She resides in Southern California with her husband Poh, daughter Seana and their two rescue rottweilers, Gus and Harvey.

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