November 3, 2020

Why It Might Take Longer Than Usual To Find Out Election Results

Article origination IPBS-RJC
In Indiana, like many states, there's been a huge increase in the number of people voting early this year.  - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

In Indiana, like many states, there's been a huge increase in the number of people voting early this year.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Hoosiers are used to finding out which candidates won and lost on election night, or pretty close to it. But that likely won’t be the case this year for some races.

Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University-Fort Wayne, said it’s important to differentiate between media organizations projecting results – which typically happens election night – and county election administrators making the results official.

“Election results have never been certified on election night," Downs said. "That is something that’s driven by us as consumers of information – we want to know before we go to bed or maybe as we stay up the entire night. But the results have never been certified that quickly.”

READ MORE: Can I Vote By Mail? Here's What You Need To Know For Indiana's Elections

Indiana Public Broadcasting is a partner with ProPublica's Electionland, a nationwide media collaboration to track voting problems and election integrity. If you have experienced or witnessed any problems when casting your ballot, text the word "vote" to 81380 to share your experience.

News outlets predict winners based on how many ballots have been counted so far. And that’s skewed this year because of so much vote-by-mail. Downs said Indiana counties can’t begin counting early voting ballots until the morning of Election Day.

“So, we still have the things we normally go through on Election Day of machines being totaled out and then being tabulated in a central system – all that stuff is still happening," Downs said. "The paper ballots have simply ramped up the amount of work that has to be done.”

Downs said delays in reporting winners is not an issue of accuracy – it’s just an issue of workload.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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