Before the 2012 US presidential election, Associated Press published for each state the earliest possible time (in Eastern Standard Time) for the declaration of results as follows (source). By this they meant the times at which the polling stations close, which in some cases (thanks for the clarification, @Bobson) is when results are "called" by news organisations on the basis of private polls, including exit polls, and demographic statistics.

But is there a reasonably reliable list available of when the states are likely to decare their official preliminary results in 2016, or even when they did in 2012?

1 Indiana 6.00 pm
2 Kentucky 6.00 pm
3 Florida 7.00 pm
4 Georgia 7.00 pm
5 New Hampshire 7.00 pm
6 South Carolina 7.00 pm
7 Vermont 7.00 pm
8 Virginia 7.00 pm
9 North Carolina 7.30 pm
10 Ohio 7.30 pm
11 West Virginia 7.30 pm
12 Alabama 8.00 pm
13 Connecticut 8.00 pm
14 Delaware 8.00 pm
15 District Of Columbia 8.00 pm
16 Illinois 8.00 pm
17 Kansas 8.00 pm
18 Maine 8.00 pm
19 Maryland 8.00 pm
20 Massachusetts 8.00 pm
21 Michigan 8.00 pm
22 Mississippi 8.00 pm
23 Missouri 8.00 pm
24 New Jersey 8.00 pm
25 North Dakota 8.00 pm
26 Oklahoma 8.00 pm
27 Pennsylvania 8.00 pm
28 Rhode Island 8.00 pm
29 Tennessee 8.00 pm
30 Texas 8.00 pm
31 Arkansas 8.30 pm
32 Colorado 9.00 pm
33 Louisiana 9.00 pm
34 Minnesota 9.00 pm
35 Nebraska 9.00 pm
36 New Mexico 9.00 pm
37 New York 9.00 pm
38 South Dakota 9.00 pm
39 Wisconsin 9.00 pm
40 Wyoming 9.00 pm
41 Arizona 10.00 pm
42 Iowa 10.00 pm
43 Montana 10.00 pm
44 Nevada 10.00 pm
45 Utah 10.00 pm
46 California 11.00 pm
47 Hawaii 11.00 pm
48 Idaho 11.00 pm
49 Oregon 11.00 pm
50 Washington 11.00 pm
51 Alaska 1.00 am

1 Answer 1


That's actually just a list of when the polls close in each state. Here's a graphic that shows those (from 2012):

2012 poll closing times (source)

If a state is highly likely to vote in a given way, based on polls conducted ahead of time, exit polls, and demographics, then some news outlets will call the state as soon as the polls close. The more uncertainty, the more official results they wait for before making a call. This is not the same as declaring official results.

If you watch the coverage of the polls closing in real time, you'll see things like "Utah has been called for Romney with 0% of the districts reporting", "Obama has won Pennsylvania with 76% of the districts reporting", or "Florida is too close to call, with 90% of the districts reporting". (not actual examples) Preliminary official results don't exist until all 100% have reported in, and they're not actually official until the appropriate procedures to certify them have been followed (which can take a few days).

This page goes into much more detail than the AP's summary data. It lists all the territories (which don't get to vote for president) and the specifics of each state's specific rules for closing times. Here is the 2016 equivalent, but there's a note at the bottom:

[P]olling times marked "reportedly" are based on unofficial or estimated data (especially as regards local variations from a jurisdictionwide statutory and/or regulatory standard) and are, thereby, subject to change.

So, to answer your question, we don't yet know for sure.

That being said, by comparing the two pages, the only change I noticed is that Kansas is reportedly closing an hour earlier (8 and 9 PM instead of 9 and 10).

  • Thanks. I am going to have to change this question, because although AP said those were "earliest possible" declaration times, you have shown that what they meant was the times when the polls close. What I am trying to ask about is neither the poll closing times nor when results are predicted by commentators ("called"), but the times of official declaration - preliminary being fine.
    – user8821
    Jul 5, 2016 at 13:04

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