All we need is just a little patience

A sticker that says I voted

Unsplash / Phillip Goldsberry

Americans aren’t exactly known for our patience, and the intensity of the 2020 presidential election only threw gasoline on the fire of our eagerness for results. Nonetheless, tallying votes takes time — we will just have to hold our collective horses.

The 2022 midterms, while not quite as chaotic as the last election, are a hot topic, and you will likely hear people calling races on social media long before things are made official. When you do, take it with a grain of salt, have patience, and remember counting takes time.

Steve Bodow, the executive producer of Netflix’s Patriot Act, explained it well in 2020:

“You have to count all the votes. Not just some of the votes or the votes that you want to count. All of them.”

Be realistic with your expectations

Calling the race on election night makes for good TV, and sometimes the winner is clear enough to make the call. But there’s no rush to crown a winner before bedtime on November 8th — it isn’t like they have to show up for work Wednesday morning.

Executive editor for The Associated Press, Julie Pace spoke on the need for patience during the previous go round, “One of the biggest things that I would encourage people to do today is to have patience,” she said. “We call it when the votes are there and the math tells us we can.”

Think about it. Will a couple extra counting days (or weeks) matter much in the grand scheme of it all?

Yeah…But Why Does it Take So Long?

Close up photo of a mailbox


In short, the pandemic changed the way Americans vote.

“There will be a significant chunk that won’t be counted immediately,” Pace explained in 2020. “In a close race, tabulating more of that mail-in vote that’s coming in still is going to be even more important. So that could be the simple reason why a count is slow.”

According to the New York Times, mail-in voting is still a popular way to vote in 2022 — following along in 2020’s footsteps. For example, absentee ballot requests in North Carolina are 114% higher than they were in the 2018 midterms.

The mail-in ballots take extra time to process. Envelopes have to be opened, the ballot has to be inspected, and then (finally) the vote can be counted. Michigan makes officials wait until two days before election day to get started. And Wisconsin doesn’t allow election officials to begin the process until election day officially rolls around — same with Pennsylvania. And these states expect nearly twice as many absentee ballots as they had in 2018, prolonging the processing time.

“Election Day has become, and will most likely always be, election month.” - Nick Corasaniti, The New York Times

Despite the quivering of anticipation we are all feeling, all we can do is have patience. “The system is pretty good. If we just let it do its thing, we’ll get the right result,” reminds Bodow.


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