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Data: Secretaries of state offices and state election boards, Real Clear Politics; Chart: Sara Wise and Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

We're not going to know the next president until we have a clear idea of who's winning the battleground states — and some of those results will be delayed as states sort through an avalanche of mail-in ballots.

The big picture: If it's close, Americans could face a days-long waiting game to find out who the president-elect will be — especially if it comes down to Pennsylvania, where we might not know the results until at least Friday.

  • Election officials in states such as Georgia and North Carolina expressed confidence in being able to have clear (but not finalized) results on election night or the next day.
  • Arizona, Florida and Texas declined to provide an estimated timeline for completed results due to elections looking different in each county and uncertainty about late-arriving mail-in ballots.
  • Michigan could take until Friday, too.
  • Most of these key states — except Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and most of Michigan — have already been processing absentee ballots, which helps expedite the counting process.
  • Arizona, Florida and large counties in Texas have already started the counting process as well.

Reality check: No matter what anyone says on election night, waiting for mail ballots to be counted is normal and happens in every election.

What to watch: Here's when state officials have said we can expect unofficial election results:

  1. Arizona: Early ballots will have to have the signatures verified, and there's no way to know how many voters will turn those in on Election Day, according to Sophia Solis, spokesperson for the office of Arizona's secretary of state.
  2. Florida: Election night results will not be released at the state level until 8 pm Eastern, according to a spokesperson for the Florida Department of State. The spokesperson declined to provide any other projections for the timing of results.
  3. Georgia: Results are expected late Tuesday for non-close races. Even in the close races, Walter Jones, spokesperson for the Secretary of State office said, they will probably have it sorted out by Wednesday.
  4. Michigan: The Secretary of State's office expects it to take until roughly Friday to process and count all the ballots, according to spokesperson Tracy Wimmer.
  5. Minnesota: "We expect that all or substantially all of in-person election day votes and absentee votes will reported election night or soon after," said Peter Bartz-Gallagher, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State's office.
  6. North Carolina: "Results reported by the end of election night will include 97 percent or more of all ballots cast in North Carolina in the 2020 general election," according to the Board of Elections.
  7. Ohio: "We expect results from Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning," said Maggie Sheehan, press secretary for the Ohio Secretary of State's office.
  8. Pennsylvania: Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said in a recent interview that she expects the "overwhelming majority” of votes will be counted by Friday, Nov 6.
  9. Texas: The Texas secretary of state's office declined to provide any expected timeline given the large size of the state and that elections are run on a county-by-county-basis.
  10. Wisconsin: "In some bigger cities, especially where they count absentee ballots at a central location instead of the polling place, we might not see all the results until the next morning," said Reid Magney, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Go deeper

GOP Rep. Fred Upton on Trump's push against Michigan election results: "It's over"

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told CNN's "Inside Politics" on Sunday that "the voters have spoken” in Michigan, and that it's time to move on from the election after no evidence of mass voter fraud has been found in his home state.

Why it matters: President Trump reached out directly to Republican leaders last week in Michigan as part of a long-shot effort to prevent the state from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, the New York Times reports.

Murkowski: "It is time to begin the full and formal transition process"

Murkowski leaves the Senate Republicans lunch in September. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) tweeted Sunday, "It is time to begin the full and formal transition process." She called Trump's attempts to overturn President-elect Biden's win "inconsistent with our democratic process."

Why it matters: Only a handful of congressional Republicans have acknowledged Biden as president-elect as Trump and his campaign continue unsuccessful legal challenges in key swing states.

19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inside Republicans' troubled Election Day operations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As President Trump unsuccessfully argues fraudulent voter claims, campaign operatives tell Axios the reality is the joint EDO (Election Day operations) by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee left them feeling largely unprepared to challenge ballots in real time.

Why it matters: With several states moving toward certifying election results this week, the postmortems are beginning as political operatives try to understand what worked, what didn't and how to adjust going forward.