So when are the main-in votes counted?

My wife asked me a question that I didn’t have any answer to. Right now, we’ve been having early voting in many states. Since I live in New York, I’m not familiar with how the counting of the ballots are set up.

Are those votes counted on Election Day? Before? Or, like absentee ballots, after?

On election night, will the results include these, or will there be a wait?

In California, those ballots are already in the county office at the moment the polls close. So they are counted first, and usually their totals are released within five minutes of the polls closing.

They are not specifically identified as absentee ballots, but everyone knows that’s what they are. There’s always a bunch of vote totals released very quickly like that, then the remainder of the totals slowly increases over the course of the evening as the votes from that day come in.


It varies by state.

In Minnesota, these votes are absentee votes, and they are just accepted by the city clerk, sorted according to the precinct you live in, and then sent out to that precinct on Election Day.

Then at the end of Election Day, the election workers at that precinct run all those absentee ballots through the same counting machine that all the in-person voters used to count their ballots. So these ballots aren’t counted in advance, they just get counted on election day like all the other ballots.

In fact, if you voted absentee, but then are actually present in the precinct on election day, you can go to the polling place and vote in person, and they will find & destroy your absentee ballot.

I’m a bit skeptical about this, because that would require them to be able to identify my absentee ballot, as opposed to your absentee ballot in the big pile of absentee ballots. That seems to send the idea of vote secrecy & voter anonymity right out the window.

Whenever I’ve voted absentee, including a couple days ago, the ballot is the same as the normal Election Day one. It has no identifying marks to tie it back to me. What prevents me from voting twice is that when they gave me the ballot, they marked me in their list of registered voters as having voted. So next Tuesday if I were to show up at the polling place, they have a record of me having voted & won’t give me another ballot. Simple, yet effective.

Concerning voting absentee then trying to vote in person, I can only speak for Ohio, where I will be a poll-worker. Each polling place has a roll book listing every eligible voter. Voters who have applied for an absentee ballot will have that fact noted in the roll book. If such a voter appears at his polling place to vote and says the he has not submitted an absentee ballot, he will be required to vote a provisional ballot. Like all provisional ballots, it will not be counted on election day, but may be counted after a ten day review period. In Ohio, absentee ballots will be optically scanned immediately after the polls close on November 4.

It is placed in an envelope, which is marked with your name, precinct, etc. But the ballot inside is unmarked & anonymous.

When processing them, the election workers check the name on the envelope against the voter roll, then open the envelope & put the ballot on a pile to be fed through the counting machine. I suppose they could peek at the ballot as they are opening the envelope, but I’m not worried about that.