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On Election Night, Keep Your Eyes on Arizona, Florida and Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 29, 2020 — There has been prevalent speculation that we may not see a winner in the presidential election and certainly in some Senate and House races come the evening of Nov. 3, but research into the processing and counting systems of each state suggests such a conclusion may actually prove unlikely.

The election procedures in Arizona, Florida, and Wisconsin all point to having a victory projection coming from these states on election night, thus making them the “tells” for the national vote. If President Trump loses either Arizona or Florida, it will almost assuredly secure a Joe Biden victory. On the other hand, should the president sweep the three aforementioned states, he will be headed toward clinching re-election.

The huge number of precast, or early votes, around the country is another mitigating fact that may halt the need to advance into political overtime, at least for the presidential race. Through Monday, almost 60 million people have voted (59,095,114 according to the Target Smart statistical organization), meaning these ballots and many more will be stacked in vote centers awaiting processing and counting.

The overwhelming early voting response, up 100 percent from this time in 2016, will assuredly lessen the number of in-person voters on Election Day, especially since the early vote number will continue to grow throughout the balance of this week.

Generally, the state processing and tabulation procedures fall into one of three categories: counting the ballots as they arrive, but not releasing totals until after the polls close; keeping the received ballots until the morning of Election Day when counting can begin; or, having to wait until the polls close before beginning to count.

First, the pre-election counting states: 23 may begin tallying as ballots are received but are prohibited from releasing any vote totals. They are:

• Arizona
• Colorado
• Connecticut
• Delaware
• Florida
• Hawaii
• Indiana
• Iowa
• Kentucky
• Louisiana
• Maryland
• Montana
• Nebraska
• Nevada
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• North Carolina
• Ohio
• Oklahoma
• Oregon
• Utah
• Wisconsin

Eleven states are authorized to begin counting the morning of Election Day:
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