Since each state controls its own election laws, some states will take longer — or much longer — than others to count the votes. Here is how long states have taken in the past, and how long they might take to count this year.
Voting in the Keystone State is set to conclude at 8:00 PM ET on Tuesday evening. While mail-in voting has been happening for some time, election officials weren’t permitted to begin counting those ballots until Election Day. For this reason, in 2020 Pennsylvania was one of eight states where news organizations did not immediately project a winner — and it’s likely this year will be similar.
The state went for Joe Biden in 2020, and the race was finally unofficially projected by DecisionDeskHQ on Friday, November 6, at 8:50 a.m. EST. The TV networks, however, waited to call the Pennsylvania race until the following day.
All polls in Georgia open at 7:00 AM ET and close at 7:00 PM. While counting took days in 2020, this year’s election results should come in much quicker thanks to the 2021 voting reform law signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp.
Under that law, counties’ election officials can start processing absentee ballots beginning two weeks prior to Election Day. Once polls close, Election Day vote counting will begin.
Georgia election officers are also required to count votes without stopping to avoid delays, making quick results much more likely. That said, if a Senate candidate doesn’t get 50% of the vote, officials will not declare a winner and the race will head to a December 6 runoff.
The state went for Joe Biden in 2020, and the election was finally unofficially projected by DecisionDeskHQ on Saturday, November 14, at 11:39 AM ET, 11 days after voting ended.
In New Hampshire, all polling locations must open by 11:00 AM ET and cannot close before 7:00 PM. The number of mail-in ballots is anticipated to drop significantly this cycle compared to during the pandemic, meaning that officials expect full unofficial results by Wednesday.
However, New Hampshire is forecasting an increased number of write-in candidates, which could lead to later official election results. Some polling locations are proactively planning to add workers in the evening hours.
In 2020, Joe Biden was projected as the winner of New Hampshire on Election Day, just before midnight.
Voting in the Buckeye State starts at 6:30 am ET and ends at 7:30 pm ET. Historically, Ohio counts its votes with blazing speed — meaning that projections for winners can be expected on election night. In both 2020 and 2018, very few ballots were counted after Election Day.
Vote counting of Election Day ballots does not take place until all votes have been cast. The Ohio Secretary of State notifies all 88 boards when the last polling location has officially closed. Under Ohio law, election boards can process absentee and mail-in votes prior to Election Day.
In 2020, Ohio was projected for Donald Trump just after midnight, hours after the polls closed.
Nevada polls begin closing at 10 p.m. ET. There is a decent chance that the final results in the state won’t be known until after Election Day. If so, that would be almost certainly due to the state’s wide embrace of mail-in ballots in 2020 that has continued this year.
Mail-in ballots are due in drop boxes by the time polls close on Election Day. Ballots postmarked by Election Day must be delivered by Saturday afternoon in order to be counted. A late influx of mail-in ballots, which should typically favor Democrats, could delay final results in the state.
In 2020, Joe Biden was projected as the winner for Nevada four days after Election Day.
In Arizona, polls close at 9 PM ET, but if history is any indication, final results will be up in the air for a long time after. Arizona’s 2020 election was the subject of numerous lawsuits over vote counts and alleged fraud, and the certification for Maricopa and Pima Counties’ results came weeks after Election Day.
The tabulation in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, was particularly controversial. Republicans in the state legislature investigated Maricopa for months afterward. The investigation and results led to an intraparty fight in the state.
Arizona was called by some media outlets early for Biden in 2020, though most others delayed calling the state for much longer — by days even — over late voter tallies. The mixed decisions caused further confusion over the state’s election process.
Washington counties must post initial results after 8 PM PT, when the last poll closes. Since the Pacific Northwest state is vote-by-mail and officials automatically send a ballot to residents, the general election polls opened in Washington on October 21, 2022.
A spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office told The Daily Wire that ballots received in the mail after the deadline can still be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day, so vote totals will change for some time after initial results are posted on the state’s voting website.
State officials anticipate that the substantial majority of the eventual totals will be reflected in ballot counts by the end of the week. However, considering the state’s all-mail election system and that most ballots arrive within a week, postmarked ballots by Election Day may arrive up to about three weeks later. Such postmarked ballots could take weeks to decide close races, with some counties counting up until the day they certify the votes on Nov. 29.
In 2020, officials still had 18.3% of the total vote to count on election night and did not reach 100% until ten days later, according to The Associated Press. That said, the election was called for Joe Biden shortly before midnight, hours after polls closed.
In Colorado, polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. MST, but much of the voting in Colorado is done by mail. During the 2020 election, almost every person who voted sent in a mail-in ballot or dropped ballots off at specific locations.
Voters can expect to see results from a large part of the entire vote count within an hour and a half of the polls closing, according to the Associated Press. The state counts around 90% of the ballots on election night, but any mail-in ballots that are submitted on Election Day won’t be tallied until Wednesday or Thursday, which could slow down official calls in tight elections.
Joe Biden was projected as the winner of Colorado in 2020, just before midnight on Election Day.