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A close race and large absentee numbers could slow results Tuesday night

Published: Nov. 2, 2020 at 7:48 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - After months of campaigning and weeks of early voting, Election Day is now here. But when will we know who has won?

“I think everyone really should take deep breaths," said Virginia Tech Professor and WDBJ7 Political Analyst Bob Denton, “I know the stakes are high, but watch it unfold.”

In an interview Monday afternoon, Denton said the extent of early voting, and the patchwork of procedures from state to state, could make for a long night as the votes in the presidential election are counted.

“There will be some changes in totals in terms of the early voting, favoring Republicans perhaps, the in-person voting,” Denton said. “And then when some of the ballots start being counted in terms of the absentee ballots we may see the numbers shift and perhaps shift dramatically.”

And unless it’s a landslide, Denton said we might not know Tuesday night who has won.

Local races could be a different story.

While absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day will still be accepted until Friday at noon, Roanoke City’s Director of Elections Andrew Cochran said most of the early vote, and the Election Day totals should be reported promptly after the polls close.

“So the local elections for mayor and city council, that’s specific to Roanoke City. Those results should be fairly well known by tomorrow evening, Tuesday evening,” Cochran said, “with the additional absentee ballots coming in for processing. The larger elections for the federal offices will obviously take a little longer for those numbers to be known.”

With about 18,000 in-person voters, and more than 9,000 ballots returned so far, early voting in the city of Roanoke has accounted for about 42% of the city’s registered voters.

More than 2,000 absentee ballots are still outstanding, but Cochran says he is optimistic many of those will be returned in time to be counted.

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