Election Day is nearly here: Here’s how your vote will actually be counted

Election Day is nearly here: Here’s how your vote will actually be counted

Early voting is at record levels this year as Americans seek to avoid crowds at polling places because of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 71 million votes have already been cast, setting the stage for a marathon counting process that could go on for days or weeks after the Nov. 3 election.

Though the US has no national criteria for how voting is conducted, counting the ballots is remarkably consistent across the country’s roughly 3,200 counties. Except in a handful of unusual cases, vote counting is conducted by machine, speeding the process of tallying the expected 150 million or more ballots that’ll be cast in the contest between Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

n some counties, voters fill out a paper ballot, which is then fed into an optical scanner that records the choices. In others, voters use a touchscreen device that records the votes digitally. In most states, but not all, those touchscreen devices create a paper record of the choices. (The devices aren’t connected to the internet.)

All the votes have to be tallied, a process that can become more complex as mail-in, provisional and overseas ballots are added to the count. Here’s how it happens:

When does the counting start for in-person voting? Do poll workers wait until the end of the day? Or can they get a head start on the count?

When you vote in person on Election Day, counting the votes doesn’t start until the polls have closed.  

Once polling places have closed, the votes for each machine are tabulated — whether it’s an optical scanner, a touchscreen device or a lever-activated machine. A poll worker prints out the vote count, which often is long enough to challenge a CVS receipt…Read more>>