The wait for decisive tallies in key races in this year’s midterm election may stretch past Election Day.
Officials in most states think most or all of their unofficial results would be available on election night or the day after, but some problems from the 2020 election could rear their heads again in some of the most-watched races, according to an analysis by the New York Times.
In 2020, key states were counting votes for as long as a week after Election Day because of a record number of mail-in ballots cast under pandemic conditions. It’s partially in that window of time that accusations of voter fraud emerged to explain the mounting Republican losses.
The Times reported this year’s election may not have those problems because turnout in midterm years is generally lower, and many states are expecting fewer mail-in ballots, partly due to easing Covid restrictions. But some states still can’t even begin counting mail-in votes until the day of the election, and close calls could lead to recounts or runoff elections.
Results may be slow to arrive in one of the most-watched races of the season: the contest for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat between former TV host Mehmet Oz and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.
Officials in Pennsylvania said full unofficial results would likely take several days, as they can’t begin processing mail-in votes until Election Day. Slow counting of mail-in votes could lead to false impressions of a Republican advantage in early results, the Times reported.
Wisconsin officials also can’t count mail-in votes until Election Day, but said the count may only take until the next morning, according to the Times. In that narrowly divided state, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers face reelection.
In Georgia, officials hope that fewer mail-in ballots will lead to faster reporting than in 2020. But a narrow margin of victory could lead to a Dec. 6 runoff election in that state’s high-profile Senate race, just as both its Senate seats did after the 2020 election.
Georgia’s Senate race pits former football star Herschel Walker against incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. FiveThirtyEight.com puts Walker ahead by 1.1 points as of Monday afternoon.
In Arizona, Trump-endorsed Republicans are running for the governorship and a Senate seat.
Results from Arizona won’t be released until 10 p.m., according to the Times. State officials expect most people there to vote early, as in 2020. But early votes in that state are counted immediately upon receipt, so officials said results will only depend on how many last-minute ballots are turned in or cast in-person on Election Day.
In New Hampshire, Army veteran Don Bolduc, an on-again-off-again proponent of Trump’s election fraud claims nonetheless endorsed by the former president, hopes to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan.
New Hampshire state officials are optimistic about having full unofficial results to report by Wednesday.
Officials in Colorado, Nevada and Ohio – where Senate races are also hot – did not hazard guesses to the Times about the pace of their reporting.