When can voters expect election results from key battleground states?
All eyes will be on a handful of races on Nov. 8 to find out which party will win control of the House and Senate, and voters are eager to know how long they might be kept waiting.
Poll closing times, state election laws and various voting systems will all play a role in how late results are expected come in.
Here’s a look at when voters can expect election results in a handful of key battleground states.
Alaska’s nickname, the Last Frontier, is especially fitting this election cycle, given that the state is likely to be the last one to report its unofficial election results due to its use of ranked-choice voting.
Ranked-choice voting requires voters to rank candidates in terms of preference, and if no candidate outright receives at least half of the vote in the first round, the candidate with the lowest number of votes gets knocked out. The voters who placed the eliminated candidate as their first pick then have their votes redistributed to their second choice. The process continues on until one candidate notches more than 50 percent of the vote.
Alaska is the site of two critical contests this year: The House race that will decide whether Rep. Mary Peltola (D) will serve out a full two-year term for the state’s at-large congressional district, and the race to decide whether Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) wins reelection.
Alaskans began early voting in person on Oct. 24, two weeks out from Election Day. Polls remain open in Alaska between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. local time.
Tiffany Montemayor, public relations manager for the Alaska Division of Elections, told The Hill to expect the first batch of results on election night. Further updates will be released on Nov. 15 and Nov. 18.
The Grand Canyon State features several high-profile match-ups, including the gubernatorial race between Republican Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs and the race between Sen. Mark Kelly (D) and Republican Blake Masters.
The early voting period began on Oct. 12 and ends on Nov. 4. Polling locations will remain open on the day of the election between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time.
The first batch of election results will be reported sometime after 8 p.m. local time on Nov. 8, according to the Arizona secretary of state’s office.
Matthew Dempsey, a lecturer at Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies, told The Hill to expect a long night in the state.
“Democrats will likely have a big margin coming in from mail ballots, but will lose ground as Election Day ballots are counted,” he said.
Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams are going head-to-head in a rematch this November after Abrams lost to Kemp in 2018 by a little more than 1 percentage point. Meanwhile, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) is vying for another term against Republican Herschel Walker.
Early in-person voting in the state began on Oct. 17 and will run until Nov. 4. Polls will remain open on Election Day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time.
Political observers expect that Georgia’s Senate race will go to a runoff, which would happen if neither Warnock nor Walker is able to notch more than 50 percent of the vote. Should that happen, the runoff would take place Dec. 6.
Charles Bullock, the Richard B. Russell chairman in political science at the University of Georgia, said unofficial election results in statewide races and the gubernatorial race could come as early as 10 p.m. local time.
“The Senate race may take a lot longer. What’s going to be critical for Democrats will be how well they do in the big metro counties: Fulton, DeKalb, increasingly Gwinnett, Cobb, because those are the biggest counties. Most precincts, most votes. It may take a while for those before we get a really good read on those,” Bullock noted.
Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) are both fighting for their political lives next month as the first-term incumbents seek to fend off challenges from Republicans Joe Lombardo and Adam Laxalt, respectively. Recent polls show candidates in both races polling against their opponents within the margin of error.
Early voting in the state runs between Oct. 22 and Nov. 4. The polls will be open on Election Day between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time. Experts said to expect some wait time before voters know where some of the state’s races stand, given what previous elections have shown.
“Nevada was notoriously slow in counting ballots in 2020 and in their primaries for 2022. Arizona was slightly quicker,” said Dempsey, the lecturer at Arizona State University.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D), who is running for the Senate seat left open by retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R), is hoping to loosen the GOP’s recent grip on the erstwhile swing state. But he’s running in a competitive election against Republican J.D. Vance, who notched former President Trump’s endorsement.
Ohio’s early voting period, including in-person voting and absentee voting, began on Oct. 12. The polls are open on Election Day between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. local time. Absentee ballots must have a postmark date of no later than Nov. 7 in order to be received.
The Ohio secretary of state’s office told The Hill they believed they would have results on election night.
The Senate race between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz remains Democrats’ best pickup opportunity in the upper chamber. The state also features a closely watched gubernatorial race between Republican Doug Mastriano, a state senator, and Democrat Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general.
Mail-in ballots get sent out to voters at different times depending on the county. The state notes that voters can request a mail-in ballot from the voter’s respective county after it’s been finalized and available. However, all counties had until Oct. 25 to send out their mail-in ballots, according to the Erie Times-News.
Polls are open on Election Day between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and the Pennsylvania Department of State notes on its website that “the results of federal and state elections in Pennsylvania are available on our election results website starting after 8 p.m. on election night.”
But department officials caution that it will be several days before unofficial election results are known. Ballots cannot be readied to be tabulated until Election Day at 7 a.m. However, unofficial returns must be reported to the secretary of the commonwealth by 5 p.m. on Nov. 15.
Among the Badger State’s marquee races are the contest between Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Trump-backed candidate Tim Michels (R) and the race between Sen. Ron Johnson (R) and Democrat Mandela Barnes.
The early voting in the state began Oct. 25 and runs until Nov. 6. Polling places are open in the state between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. local time. State officials said unofficial results could likely be ready early the next morning following the election.
“Given that unofficial results in both the 2018 and 2020 General Elections weren’t complete until the early morning hours after Election Day, it would be reasonable to assume it may take until then for unofficial results to be tabulated and posted this year,” Riley Vetterkind, public information officer at the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said in a statement.
“Many factors may influence how long it takes to compile initial results, such as the volume of ballots to process, and whether there are any unforeseen circumstances that could delay reporting,” Vetterkind added.