stacks of ballots next to hand placing ballots in processing machine Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that if we vote by mail, the vote is counted.”

More than 650,000 Arizonans had already returned early ballots as of Monday. Now that their votes have been cast, what’s next? 

Mostly, waiting.

Voter advocates have warned it might be unlikely for the results of the election to be in on the evening of Election Day. If the margin of votes is narrow, a recount might be necessary.

Phillip Arroyo, political analyst and criminal defense attorney, explained how the United States electoral system is not uniform, so dates and deadlines vary from one region to another.


RELATED: A Timeline of Arizona’s Long History of Early Voting


For example, Arizona officials can start counting early ballots two weeks before the election. But other states can’t start counting them until the actual Election Day. 

“Each state has its own sovereignty regarding its rules and electoral procedure,” Arroyo told The Americano. “There is no uniform mechanism at the federal level.” 

Arroyo admits it’s hard to predict the scenario on Election Day, especially because the 2016 election—when many believed Hillary Clinton was going to win—showed anything can happen.

“I think nothing can surprise us in politics these days,” the analyst said. “The talk of delays regarding election results is part of President Donald Trump’s discourse—to cast doubt on the electoral process. He holds on to those notions and could later claim there was cheating on the part of Biden’s camp, when in fact the Democratic candidate is currently leading in the polls.”


Watch the Process


When voters cast their vote by mail, early voting, or in person, they can track the progress of their ballot. Arizonans can do so here

Arizona also has a law requiring counties to live stream rooms where ballots are tabulated, so voters can watch the process behind the scenes.

Arroyo already voted by mail, like the 80% of Arizonans who regularly do so—he believes the follow-up process for mail-in votes is reasonably transparent.

“I cast my vote, put it in the mailbox, and checked, using the system going by my electoral number; it reflects when they received the ballot,” Arroyo explained. “Then an email arrives notifying when your vote has been counted. It’s a fairly transparent process where you can trace your ballot. That clears up a lot of the criticism from people who say voting by mail is a tricky process.”


RELATED: How to Track Your Early Ballot in Arizona


The political analyst recommends that voters track their ballots so they can check that the process is moving along.

“If you enter the site, and you sent your ballot a week ago and don’t see it posted, call your county Supervisor of Elections office immediately and verify what happened to your ballot,” Arroyo said. “It’s very important—it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that if we vote by mail, the vote is counted.”

If a person mailed their ballot on time and realizes on Election Day or the day before that it has not been counted, Arroyo recommends that the voter visit their county’s elections office in person and report the situation.

“Voters should keep as much evidence as possible,” Arroyo insisted. “If the results of the election are close and some ballots are not accounted for, they will all go through scrutiny. It’s important to save all evidence in the event a case has to be brought under state or federal government electoral laws.”


Stay Informed


Arroyo said he hopes the process will flow smoothly. He remembered how in 2000 election results went all the way to the Supreme Court, when George W. Bush and Al Gore were running for president. Bush prevailed.

Arroyo said an indicator that voting process is going well is when results start coming in early in the evening. Election officials count ballots using electronic machines, so the process is swift.

“If we begin to see an unusual slowness, specifically in key states like Florida, Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania—that would be the first red flag,” he said. “We must be very aware of everything. Stay on top of the news—not just through CNN or Fox. Check as many news sources as you can.”


MORE: The Copper Courier’s Guide to Voting in Arizona in 2020