TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Voting in this year’s presidential election officially ends at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Florida. Ballots are counted on Election Day, but what goes into the process of calculating the potentially 14 million votes statewide?
Florida is one of 17 states across the United States that begins tallying absentee ballots long before Election Day. Florida law has very specific instructions for how and when votes are tabulated.
Supervisors of elections in Florida were allowed to start canvassing, or aggregating, vote-by-mail ballots as early as Sept. 24 this year for the 2020 General Election, according to Florida Statute section 101.68.
Florida Statute section 102.141 indicates that all early voting and all completed vote-by-mail results are due by 7:30 p.m. in the respective county’s time zone and should be updated in 45-minute increments until all results, except for provisional ballots, are completely reported.
Since Florida has two time zones – central and eastern – statewide preliminary election night returns will not be released until 8 p.m. ET.
Unofficial results are due from supervisors of elections by Nov. 7 and official results are due Nov. 15.
So how soon can we expect an announcement of a winner?
Since 1848, the Associated Press has called U.S. elections using a team of 60 analysts who compile and interpret data to declare a winner and disperse the information to its national and local subscribers.
For each state, the AP will declare a winner once the analysts conclude that the losing candidate can no longer catch up to the leading candidate.
During the 2016 election, the Associated Press was the first news outlet to declare Donald Trump the winner of the presidential election. That happened at 2:29 a.m. on Nov. 9.
For more information on Tuesday’s election results, visit the WFLA Voter Guide.
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