Philadelphia's 2020 mail ballots in a secure area at the Pa. Convention Center Credit: Emma Lee / WHYY

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As multiple states continue to count mail ballots the morning after Election Day, Pennsylvania is still considered key.

The commonwealth’s 20 Electoral College votes considered pivotal, as predicted, but figuring out who gets them will take some time. Nearly 2.5 million mail ballots were returned statewide. That’s close to half the total number of votes cast in 2016.

Unlike many other states, however, Pa. election officials were prohibited from opening mail ballots before in-person voting begins on Tuesday.

Some Pennsylvania counties decided to put off even starting this effort until Wednesday, but Philadelphia and its suburbs began tallying their mail and absentee votes as soon as they were legally allowed.

Each election board in the Philly region has a different plan for posting periodic updates. Here’s how officials hope the mail ballot results reporting will go down.

(Note: If you’re looking for general results, find them on

Philadelphia: 8:30 PM, then late on election night, then periodically

Philly has the highest number of mail ballots requested of any county in Pa. Officials began processing them at 7 a.m. on Election Day.

The City Commissioners, who oversee the city’s elections, set up a robust vote-recording mechanism at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Arch Street, with machines that can open up both envelopes to count 12,000 ballots per hour.

For the results, you can look on the City Commissioners website.

A first count of mail ballot results in Philadelphia came shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Another was announced late Tuesday, after most of the in-person results have been tallied, late on election night.

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, here’s the plan for releasing updates:

  • 9:30 or 10 a.m.
  • 3:30 or 4 p.m.
  • 9:30 or 10 p.m.

After that, the office staff said they expect to post results to the website twice daily — so stay tuned.

Montgomery County: 8:30 PM, then once an hour through 1 AM, resuming at 6 AM

Montgomery County’s results are on this map, which also represents the ballots that haven’t been counted yet.

County Commissioners will started counting mail ballots at 7 a.m. on Election Day — then posted their first update around 8:30 p.m. The staff updated the site about once an hour until 1 a.m. on Nov. 4, then started updates again at 6 a.m.

Delaware County: 11 PM , then undetermined

Delco, too, began opening and scanning mail and absentee ballots on Election Day morning — but the votes didn’t start getting tallied until later.

The board of elections is posting unofficial results to its website.

Bucks County: 10 PM, then every hour and a half

Officials in Bucks will started opening its nearly 150k returned mail ballots at 7 a.m. Election Day, then began tallying the results in the early afternoon.

The first batch of results, a combo of in-person and mail votes, was up around 10 p.m. Then there were updates roughly every 90 minutes, according to the county election board — even overnight, with workers on rotating shifts to get all the votes counted.

Chester County: 8 PM, then ‘periodically’ 

After 13 hours of counting mail ballots, Chester County officials had a first round of results up shortly after polls closed on Election Day. After that, the plan is periodic updates. Check the Chester County election portal for info.

But don’t check too fast: “Due to the anticipated volume,” their site reads, “wait times may be longer than previous elections.”

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Michaela Winberg

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...