Expect election results after Nov. 3

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Ryan Ash

A Champaign County ballot drop box sits outside the Illini Union on Oct. 4. Champaign County voters now have access to more ballot drop boxes after Gov. J.B. Pritzker passed House Bill 1871 to fund their installation.

By Sam Roberson, Managing Editor for Online

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our lives, including how we vote. 

Many voters turned to mail-in ballots this year to avoid packed polling places, which will in turn affect how votes are counted. Absentee voting rates for the 2020 election will range from 50-70% nationwide, which is over a 25% increase from the 2016 election, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

In the past, Americans typically voted on Election Day and knew the results later that night. This year, the counting process can take weeks for some states. Half of all states will accept absentee ballots if their postmark indicates the ballot was mailed before Nov. 3. In addition, 30 states will allow voters to correct errors in their ballots that would usually lead to them being rejected. 

This year, Americans can plan to know election results soon before they become official. Some states are planning to report results from ballots cast on Election Day and update results after absentee ballots are counted. On the other hand, some states are planning to report results from absentee ballots received before Election Day in addition to ballots cast on the day itself. Illinois will begin counting mail-in ballots at 7 p.m. on Election Day. Some swing states, such as Georgia, Wisconsin and North Carolina, cannot count mail-in ballots until after the polls close Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Since every state has its own policy, we might see something similar to what happened in the primaries in mid-March. On average, it took four days for results to be reported, while states such as Georgia took 10 days, according to an analysis done by The Washington Post. 

Many people have questioned the validity of mail-in ballots, though there hasn’t been any evidence that confirms this theory. Mail-in ballots do, however, take a longer time to be counted, as they have to be reviewed by election officials to assure their validity. 

In short, election results will likely not be ready the night of Nov. 3, so get some sleep election night.

Samantha is a junior in Media.

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