Secretary of State: What to expect for results reporting on election night

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

From the Office of the Washington Secretary of State

More than 3 million registered voters in Washington state have already returned their ballots for the 2020 General Election. 

Turnout is well ahead of the pace set at this point in 2016.

“With such high participation already this election, we know voters are eager to learn the results,” said Lori Augino, elections director, Office of the Secretary of State. 
“Please be patient; results reporting is not instantaneous and there are processes in place to ensure the results are displayed accurately.”

Ballots are not tabulated by counties until after the voting period closes at 8pm on Election Day, November 3. 2020. 

Following the initial results release on election night, no further results will be reported until November 4. Washington’s largest counties will post updated results daily while counties with a population of less than 75,000 are required to report at least every three days.

Results will be regularly posted throughout the 21-day certification window. Each county will post their next tabulation date and time along with how many estimated ballots they have left on-hand to process each time they update their results.

Results are not final until counties certify them on Nov. 24. The Secretary of State has until Dec. 3 to certify the 2020 General Election returns.

“After Election Day, county election offices will continue working diligently to count every valid vote throughout the entire certification period,” said Julie Anderson, Pierce County Auditor. “This is a normal and expected process during any given election.”

On election night, each of the 39 county election offices will release results shortly after 8 p.m. At that time, counties will tabulate all of the ballots with signatures that have been processed; the signature on the ballot envelope must match the signature on the voter’s registration record in order to be counted.

County election offices will post a PDF copy of the results to their respective websites, and will upload the results to the state’s VoteWA portal, ensuring the results uploaded match the PDF copy of the results. A copy of the PDF is provided to the Office of the Secretary of State’s elections staff, who perform an additional review of the PDF against the results posted online.

Most counties will have PDF results posted on their webpage before the Office of the Secretary of State is able to display statewide results, as they undergo additional auditing and cybersecurity checks.

County election officials estimate the results released on election night will account for as much as 60% of the state’s ballots expected for the 2020 General Election.

Counties will continue to receive valid ballots by mail after Nov. 3. Any ballot postmarked on Nov. 3 or earlier is considered on-time and will be processed.

Voters have until 8pm November 3, 2020 to place their marked ballots in one of over 500 drop boxes statewide. Drop-box locations can be found on the Office of the Secretary of State’s official website or by visiting VoteWA.gov, Washington’s online voter portal.

Note about write-in votes: 

Counties report the total number of write-in votes on tabulation reports. Results on Election Day will only include a single generic ‘write-in’ category. If the total number of write-in votes for an office is more than the apparent winner of the race, then write-in votes will be tallied during the 21 day certification period of the election for each declared write-in candidate in the race.
  • If a declared candidate receives enough votes to be elected, their name shall appear on the certified election results.
  • If an office has a declared candidate and:
    • The total number of write-in votes is not enough to tally write-in votes, the votes for individual write-in candidates shall not be part of the official results certified by the canvassing board. Individual vote totals will not be displayed on certification documents or unofficial election results for that candidate.
    • The total number of write-in votes requires a tally of votes for declared write-in candidates. The total of votes cast for each declared write-in candidate shall be included in the official results certified by the canvassing board.


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