WASHINGTON — As polls begin to close on Tuesday night, the results of some races may be quickly announced but we may not know some results for quite some time.
However, that's not a reason to doubt the midterm results or question the election's validity. It's just part of the way the U.S. votes.
While some races will have a winner declared on election night, those results are unofficial, and always incomplete. The exact vote count for each candidate inevitably changes as more ballots are counted.
In the 2022 midterms, control of Congress hangs in the balance, with a few key races that could tip the balance in either party's favor.
Local election officials don't begin posting results until polls close in those states. The first polls close in just a couple states at 6 p.m. Eastern.
Republicans are heavily favored to take control of the House, and it's likely we may know by the end of the night if they managed to win enough seats to flip the lower chamber. Either way, a strong showing from either party will likely be easy to see in vote tallies before the end of the night, indicating which party will likely win control.
While Republicans are widely expected to take the House, it could take days or even weeks before we know who controls the Senate.
In most elections Republicans tend to lead early in the vote counting process in many swing states. That's because Republicans often vote on Election Day. Democrats are more likely to use early voting and absentee ballots.
Absentee ballots especially take longer to count. Several states have laws that prevent them from being counted until all the polls close on election night, resulting in delays for those votes.
The results on election night in 2020 are a perfect example of this. While Donald Trump was leading in several key districts at the beginning of the night, as more votes were counted, Joe Biden's votes began to overtake him and eventually secure the presidency for the Democrat.
The peach state could also stop us from knowing who controls the U.S. Senate by the time we go to bed on election night.
Georgia is one of the few U.S. states that requires a runoff for races where no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote.
That's what happened in 2020, and resulted in Georgia electing two Democratic senators and securing a majority in the Senate for Democrats for the past two years.
Recent polling shows Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in a close race against Republican challenger Herschel Walker. If enough voters chose a third party candidate or write in a name, it's entirely possible Georgia will have another runoff election.
Other Close Races
Even if Georgia is called for one candidate, it could take hours or potentially even days to know the results in every race.
Close races like Arizona, Pennsylvania and Nevada will likely have thousands of early, absentee of provisional ballots to count.
Polls will begin to close at 6 p.m. Eastern in the U.S., with most states wrapping up their elections around 7 or 8 p.m. But a polling place is required to stay open until everybody in line has a chance to cast their ballot, meaning states with close races where turnout is high could have to wait for some precincts to wrap up.
These delays add up, meaning it's likely that some counting will continue into Wednesday or even Thursday.
All said, it's best not to get your hopes up to know the results of the 2022 midterm elections Tuesday night.