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I understand there are a few areas like Dixville Notch, N.H where everyone in the area votes at midnight, and because they are so small they know everyone has voted and hence they can release their results are released at 12:01.

However, there are also some larger counties (with e.g. 10,000 people in them) that are announced at around 6pm, while polls only close at 7pm (e.g. in Kentucky, Indiana). How is this possible? I assume that they cannot know that everyone in the county has voted in the same why they know for Dixville Notch.

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  • In the larger counties they can only report on the ballots that have been counted on election day. There are more ballots that have not yet been counted because overseas ballots can arrive up to ten days AFTER election day. As a reference, 640,000 overseas ballots were cast in 2016. So, in no way should election day results be considered "final" – BobE Aug 4 '20 at 14:48
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Time zones. Kentucky and Indiana, like several other states, are split between two time zones. When a state is split between time zones, polls throughout the state can either close at the same time or at the same local time. If polls close at the same local time, then polls in the eastern part of the state will close before polls in the western part. If you look at a source that says when the last polls in a state close, it'll say Indiana and Kentucky close at 7 PM Eastern. But only precincts on Central Time close then; many precincts closed at 6 PM Eastern and are already reporting.

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