Election night will look different in 2020 – and that’s OK. Here’s what to expect

BOSTON — Election night is expected to look a lot different this year, that’s the message from Massachusetts' Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, who issued a press release Tuesday on the differences the public is likely to see during this presidential election.

Read the full document from the Secretary of the Commonwealth here

For the 2020 presidential election, mail-in ballots sent domestically can be counted in Massachusetts if they arrive at local election offices by 5 p.m. on November 6 – three days after Election Day. However, they can only be counted as long as those ballots have been postmarked on or before November 3.

All of those ballots must be counted after the 5 p.m. deadline on November 6 in a public setting that is open to observers. Local election officials can choose when to count those ballots, but they must post when the session is taking place three days in advance of when it happens.

>>>MORE: Election 2020: Mass. early voting dates, locations

“Before beginning the count of ballots, clerks must reference the voter lists from Election Day to check to see if any voters have already voted in person. Mail-in ballots received from voters who have already voted will be rejected,” the state said about counting mail-in ballots.

International mail-in ballots can be counted in Massachusetts if they arrive at local election offices by 5 p.m. on November 13 – 10 days after election day. However, they can only be counted as long as those ballots have been postmarked on or before November 3.

Those ballots must be counted, “at a public meeting of the Board of Registrars no earlier than 5 p.m. on November 13th and no later than the certification deadline of November 18th,” according to the state.

November 18 is the last day when local election officials can certify the results of the election in Massachusetts.

After local results are certified, they are sent to the Elections Division of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. There, Governor Charlie Baker and the Governor’s Council complete a final certification of the results.

>>>MORE: How to vote by mail and track your ballot in Massachusetts

Unofficial results in Massachusetts cannot be totaled until 8 p.m. on Election night. Those unofficial results will be comprised of ballots cast in-person on Election Day, ballots cast during early voting, and ballots cast by mail that have been received on or before November 3.

Once all of those ballots have been counted, local election officials may share the unofficial results with certain media organizations that they have arrangements with.

“The Associated Press has a long-standing relationship with the Massachusetts City and Town Clerks' Associations to receive results from each city and town,” the state said.

Boston 25 News cites our Election night results from the Associated Press.

>>>MORE: Election 2020: Massachusetts ballot questions

And while no unofficial results can be totaled until 8 p.m. on November 3, local election officials can begin processing ballots on October 25.

That process includes checking voters who have already voted either by mail or during early voting off of voter lists, removing ballots from inner envelopes, and entering those ballots into tabulation machines. While already processed, those ballots will only be considered counted once the 8 p.m. deadline passes on Election Day.

>>>MORE ELECTION 2020 NEWS


Vote by mail steps:

There are currently 193 ballot drop boxes across the state. Click here to find a ballot drop box location near you.

The state has a full list of election tools for voters on its Election Page.

Voter Resources