New rule changes and the increased popularity of absentee voting might mean results from Tuesday’s election won’t be known for some time.
Alternative Voting: A number of states have gone to what is called “no fault” absentee voting this year, which means voters no longer need an excuse to obtain an absentee ballot. Applications for the absentee option have exploded partly because of worries about the paperless machines, and partly because both parties have mailed applications to millions of voters whether they requested them or not. That could shorten lines at the polls on Election Day but lengthen the count on election night. All around the U.S., the percentage of absentee balloting is exploding: most jurisdictions are seeing a jump in the ballots going out and coming back in by mail. More than 50% of the total turnout in the states of Washington and Nevada will be by absentee ballot; in California, the estimate is 44% of turnout. In San Diego last week, officials ran out of absentee ballots and had to send out photocopies. In Cleveland, more than 100,000 people are expected to vote absentee. Cuyahoga County officials can’t start counting those until midnight on Election Day morning; they have to stop counting when the regular votes arrive. The upshot? It’s going to be a long night in Ohio. And probably a few other places as well.