Midterm Elections

Why The Winners Of The Midterm Election Might Not Be Known Tuesday

Though Election Day is Tuesday, it might take some time to actually have race results because of different state voting rules.

Why The Winners Of The Midterm Election Might Not Be Known Tuesday

Knowing who will control Congress by the end of the night Tuesday might be a far shot. Local, state and federal races might take some time to produce results.

But don't be alarmed if you don't know who won by the time you go to bed that night. There are many factors that could cause a delay.

"Different states have different rules for the hours of voting, for how they're tabulated, how the results are released," said Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press Election Decision Editor. "So, it is really a broad mix of different types of elections and different states."

Some states like ArizonaFlorida and Georgia may be counted fairly quickly because those states allow mail-in ballots to be counted well before Election Day. Michigan can start counting Sunday.

One state that might not be so quick is Pennsylvania.

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally.

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"In Pennsylvania, under state law, they cannot open mail ballots until the morning of Election Day," Ohlemacher said. "It takes a long time to process those ballots and count them, so they very well might not be able to count all of their ballots on Election Day. It could take days, and since we do expect there to be close races there for both Senate and governor, it could take a while before we know who wins."

More than a dozen states do not allow ballots to be counted until after the polls close.

Automatic recounts and runoffs are two other factors complicating results. Arizona, for example, has an automatic recount if candidates are separated by .5% or less.

In Georgia, the highly watched race between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican candidate Herschel Walker could go to a runoff if one of the candidates does not receive at least 50% of the vote. Otherwise, just like in 2020, it will go to a runoff in early December.

But despite laws in place that create the expected delays, many candidates say they want the results by Tuesday night and haven't promised to accept the outcomes regardless.

Experts caution just because results may take a few days, or even longer, doesn't mean the results aren't accurate.