Voters wait in long lines to cast their ballots in 2020 election

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On the eve of Election Day, a long line formed outside of the Early Vote Center on Hennepin Avenue East in Minneapolis. About 600 to 1,000 people have voted daily at each of the city’s three polling places over the last week, according to elections officials.

"This line is crazy, I thought it would take me 20 minutes honestly," said Kier Waskey, from Minneapolis. "I’m really excited people are voting this year and are pressuring family and friends to do the same."

Elections officials reported wait times up to an hour and a half on Monday.

Peter Williams, from Minneapolis, said he got in line at 3 p.m.

"I was here for about two hours or so," he said. "I thought this is the one day I can do it and no matter how long it was going to take, I was going to get it done … Even if it was three or four hours, I probably would’ve stayed."

Williams said he made it to the front of the line around 5 p.m., the time the polling location closed. He said a poll worker reassured him he would still be able to cast his ballot.

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"She was like, ‘As long as you’re in line, you’re good to vote,’ and everyone behind me was like, ‘Thank God, we can do it,’" said Williams.

In Brooklyn Park, the wait was even longer. According to a city spokesperson, the average time in line was two and a half to three hours.

"I’ve never seen anything like this as far as the lines and everything," said Junior Okonkwo, of Brooklyn Park. "Once I drove past this line, I was pretty shocked."

More than 1.8 million absentee and mail-in ballots were accepted by 8:30 p.m. on Monday, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office. That’s 62% of the total turnout in 2016.

Elections officials can start tallying the votes after polls close on Tuesday.

"It may go into the next day or even two but I do believe that all or substantially all of those absentee ballots will be reflected in the election night returns," said Secretary of State Steve Simon. "I say substantially all because you never know what glitches come up and the legislature did provide an extra two days after the election, kind of a cushion given the surge in absentee ballots."

University of St. Thomas Political Science Professor Tim Lynch said it could take a couple of days or longer to see full election results.

"I don’t think that we should be expecting the full results of the election tomorrow night," Lynch said. "We never actually have the final certified results on Election Night. Just because of the way that the election is unfolding, especially with more people voting by mail, it just could take longer."

He said there will be two primary factors that play a role in how quickly results come in.

"One is election law in each state and how that’s going to play out in terms of when they’re able to start counting their ballots and when they will accept ballots until," Lynch said. "The other thing is how close the race is."

In a tight race, it could take longer to determine a winner.

He said the process of determining race results is both similar and different from elections past.

"I think from the perspective of elections officials, whose job it is to count the votes and make sure they’re counted and the counts are right, I think their procedures might be updated for things like social distancing," Lynch said. "But in the sense that they are doing their job of tabulating the votes, I think it is pretty consistent to what you see in other elections."

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