Planning to watch election results? It may take a while.

Oct 29, 2020, 6:45 PM | Updated: Nov 6, 2020, 10:51 am
election results...
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- For our fellow political junkies out there who are preparing to watch election results next week: Buckle up. It may take a few days — for some races, weeks — before we know the winners. 

Although some races may have clear winners by the end of election night, that won’t be the case in several states. That’s especially true with the increase of mail-in voting this year. 

Several states are already setting records for early voting in the 2020 general election. In Utah, roughly 752,243 ballots have been processed as of Thursday — which is 66% of the total vote in 2016. 

Election experts are predicting mail-in ballots will make up about 50-70% of the total votes in 2020, compared to just 23% in 2016. In fact, more Americans will vote before Election Day this year than ever before. 

While some states report they expect results on election night, several others expect a longer counting period. That’s because of the surge in mail-in voting, with some states not permitted to count those results until after polls close. 

Some states will count votes from the polls first, with mail-in votes coming in later. That means results may be skewed for the first few hours depending on the state — as Republicans are more likely to vote in person and Democrats by mail. 

Mail-in ballots also take longer to process, as they go through several steps to ensure validity. 

Although results won’t be deemed official until weeks after, this isn’t necessarily new. Several races are called before results are officially tabulated. 

Utah election officials report they don’t have an estimate when “full unofficial results” will be available to voters. In the last two general elections, about 30% of ballots remained uncounted by noon the next day. 

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Planning to watch election results? It may take a while.