When Will We Know Election Results?
Here’s what we know about when to expect a race call in Virginia and in other places holding elections on Tuesday.
Election results in the Virginia governor’s race could take hours or even days.
Nov. 2, 2021, 6:26 p.m. ET
In Virginia, all mail ballots postmarked by Election Day must be counted if they are received by the following Friday at noon.Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times
Expect it to be a late night in Virginia. And possibly a long week.
In 2020, President Biden won the state by 10 percentage points, and the race wasn’t called until well after midnight. No one expects the margin of victory for either Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate, or Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate, to reach double digits, meaning a large percentage of the vote total will likely need to be counted before it is clear who won.
If the margin is fewer than 10,000 votes, Virginians may have to wait a few days. The state requires that all mail ballots postmarked by Election Day be counted if they are received by the following Friday at noon. In 2020, the count included 10,901 ballots that fell in that post-Election Day window.
And as voters navigate the relatively new early voting process, both campaigns expect an uptick in provisional ballots, which also can take days to be counted.
The state has made some improvements since the 2020 election.
Counties are now required to prepare their early absentee ballots for processing, meaning the ballots can be opened, checked for eligibility and scanned up to a week before Election Day. That is likely to help alleviate the type of bottlenecks in tabulating absentee votes that delayed the 2020 vote count.
So while it may take time for results to be counted, Virginia is not expected to repeat what happened in Pennsylvania in 2020, when election officials were restricted by law from getting a head start on processing early votes, leading to a delay in counting.
In New York City, voters will likely not have to wait long at all. Eric Adams, the Democratic candidate, is the overwhelming favorite in the race to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the election is expected to be called early in the night.
But for City Council seats and other closer races, the results could take some time. The New York City Board of Elections has not had a recent history of timely results or orderly counting. It took weeks for the agency to release certified election results in nearly all the races after the primary in June.
New Jersey expanded early voting this year and can expect an election night as swift as the one in New York. Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, has been maintaining a double-digit lead in his re-election bid for most of the year. Though that lead has waned slightly, there has not been any major swings to indicate a shift in support.
The state has also seen steady early voting, with nearly 500,000 people voting by mail as of Thursday. All those votes can be prepared and ready for tabulation on Election Day.
In Atlanta, the race to replace Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms — who decided not to seek re-election — is almost certainly headed to a runoff election. It may take late into the night to learn which candidates make it to the runoff.
The race that will give Boston its first female mayor appears headed to an early night. Michelle Wu has maintained a large lead over her opponent, Annissa Essaibi George, with recent polling from Suffolk University showing Ms. Wu with a 32-point advantage.