The New Normal: What to expect on election night in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York

What to expect on election night, with information about advance voting, poll closing times and more from AP's election research and decision teams.

Associated Press

Nov 8, 2022, 2:56 PM

Updated 582 days ago

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What to expect on election night, with information about advance voting, poll closing times and more from AP's election research and decision teams.

CONNECTICUT

While Connecticut is considered a blue state, certain parts have become more conservative since former President Donald Trump came on the scene, giving the GOP some hope for success this year.
Republicans, who have had great success in local races, hope to make inroads in state and national races this year by focusing on affordability issues in Connecticut, which has some of the highest energy prices in the nation and a relatively high tax burden compared to other states.
Despite the state’s shifting politics, recent polling shows a majority of the state’s voters still have an unfavorable opinion of Trump. Democrats like two-term U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal have been capitalizing on voter opposition to Trump in races, often referring to their opponents as radical or out-of-touch with Connecticut.
Blumenthal is being challenged by Republican National Committee member Leora Levy, a GOP fundraiser who received Trump’s backing days before she won the party primary. Levy also opposes abortion — with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother — another stance that puts her at odds with most Connecticut voters.
Gov. Ned Lamont, a wealthy former cable TV entrepreneur, is seeking a second term in a rematch against Republican businessman Bob Stefanowski.
Most of the state’s five Democratic-held seats are considered relatively safe.
Democrats currently control both the state House and Senate. Given the large number of retirements from the General Assembly this year, Republicans are seeking to pare back those majorities.
Voters are also deciding whether to change the state’s constitution to give state legislators the go-ahead to consider creating an early in-person voting system in Connecticut that could potentially be in place as early as 2024. Connecticut is one of six states with no form of early voting.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
ELECTION NIGHT
Polls close at 8 p.m. ET.
HOW CONNECTICUT VOTES
The majority of Connecticut votes on Election Day. The state does not allow early voting. In 2020, the state was still counting votes two days after the polls closed. Key areas are Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford and Hartford, the larger cities where most of the population is. Democratic candidates for statewide and federal offices have typically dominated throughout the state.
DECISION NOTES
AP will tabulate and declare winners in 158 contested elections in Connecticut, including the race for governor, U.S. Senate and five U.S. House seats. In the 2020 general election, the AP first reported results minutes after polls closed and 90% of results at 6:27 p.m. ET the following day.
The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap.
Should a candidate declare victory or offer a concession before the AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that AP has not yet declared a winner and explain why.
The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome. Connecticut has a mandatory recount law for races in which the lead is tighter than half of 1% of the total vote but not more than 1,000 votes.
The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. The AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Q: WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE PRIMARY?
A: While state Republicans endorsed a pro-abortion, gun-control moderate for U.S. Senate, primary voters chose the more conservative candidate. Levy won the nomination in a three-way race.
Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?
A: Earlier this year, Lamont signed into law a bill that includes the broad term of “sickness” as a valid excuse for requesting an absentee ballot, aligning state law with existing language in Connecticut’s constitution. The “sickness” excuse would apply to the individual voter’s health or someone else’s health, such as an ill relative.
Q: WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
A: As of Oct. 25, unaffiliated voters made up the state’s largest voting bloc, with 921,367 voters. They’re followed by Democrats, with 811,358, and Republicans with 461,782, for a total of 2.2 million registered voters.
Most people vote in person in Connecticut. In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, 36% of people voted through an absentee ballot.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?
A: Connecticut law provides for mandatory recounts for races in which the lead is tighter than half of 1% of the total vote but not more than 1,000 votes.

NEW JERSEY

New Jersey’s status as a reliable Democratic state got cemented during former President Donald Trump’s administration. The party picked up four U.S. House seats in 2018, though one of them flipped to the GOP when Jeff Van Drew switched parties because of his opposition to the first Trump impeachment.
Going into this month’s election, Democrats control 10 of the state’s dozen seats, while the GOP has two. The 7th District sequel between Malinowski and Kean is perhaps the most closely watched contest.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
ELECTION NIGHT
Polls close at 8 p.m. ET.
HOW NEW JERSEY VOTES
New Jersey has a mix of early mail and in-person voting, along with Election Day voting at polling places. Voters can get a mail-in ballot without an excuse and can vote by dropping ballots in drop boxes, the mailbox or taking them in person to their county seat. Early in-person voting runs from Oct. 29 through Nov. 6. New Jersey’s biggest bloc of voters is Democratic, followed by unaffiliated voters, then Republicans.
DECISION NOTES
AP will tabulate and declare winners in 14 contested elections in New Jersey, including 12 U.S. House seats. In the 2020 general election, AP first reported results at 8:18 p.m. ET Tuesday and 50% of results at 9:42 p.m. ET. AP reported 90% of results on Nov. 12.
AP does not make projections or name apparent or likely winners. Only when AP is fully confident a race has been won – defined most simply as the moment a trailing candidate no longer has a path to victory – will we make a call. Should a candidate declare victory – or offer a concession – before AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that AP has not yet declared a winner and explain the reason why we believe the race is too early or too close to call.
The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome. In New Jersey, candidates may request a recount within 17 days of the election.
The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Q: WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE PRIMARY?
A: No incumbents lost in the primary, showcasing their usual strength in New Jersey elections and the two major parties’ strength getting their preferred candidates into the general election.
Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?
A: New Jersey in 2020 sent mail-in ballots to every registered voter, resulting in a flood of mail ballots that slowed vote counting and reporting of results. The state didn’t report total votes until Nov. 15. New Jersey enacted an early in-person voting measure in 2021, establishing a weeklong period of in-person voting that ends before Election Day. The state also allowed election officials to begin counting mail-in ballots before Election Day.
Q: WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
A: As of Oct. 1, 2022, there were 6,488,266 registered voters in New Jersey, including 2,530,771 Democrats, 1,525,013 Republicans and 2,351,433 unaffiliated.
In 2020, more than 4.4 million people cast ballots, compared to 3.87 million in 2016. In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, 94% of votes were cast by mail.
Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?
A: It’s hard to say because 2020 was an abnormal election. Because of COVID-19, the governor and Legislature chose to send mail ballots to all voters. Then lawmakers changed voting law to provide for early in-person voting in 2021. This year’s election will see a mix of mail, early in-person and Election Day voting.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?
A: There is no automatic recount in New Jersey, and candidates would have to finance the cost of one if they sought one. Recounts aren’t a regular feature.
PARTING THOUGHT
New Jersey Democrats added Democratic voters in districts that began a decade ago as Republican districts. That could make re-election prospects easier for some incumbents, including Mikie Sherrill in the 11th District and Andy Kim in the 3rd. But they didn’t sure up the 7th District, where the GOP ranks swelled. A good night for House Republicans could include a victory in this swingy district.
The state also had a preview of sorts during its statewide race for governor last year. Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy won, as expected, but the contest was much closer than polls indicated. Republicans also picked up seats in the Legislature, and Democrats said they believed the public was most concerned with affordability issues. It’s a theme that’s carried into this year as well.

NEW YORK

Ever-blue New York has twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans and has turned less friendly for Republicans over the past decade, thanks in part to upstate population loss and a decrease in New Yorkers identifying as Republicans. Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election decisively in the state. Democrats control the governor’s office and enjoy supermajorities in both chambers of the state Legislature.
New York’s top race this November features Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul running to become the state’s first elected female governor against Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island. Former lieutenant governor Hochul took office last year following the resignation of her predecessor former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned to avoid a likely impeachment trial. Hochul’s lead in opinion polls has dwindled in recent weeks. Zeldin hopes his anti-crime messaging will help him further narrow the gap and oust her.
Hochul has stressed her support for abortion rights and acting on climate change. She has criticized Zeldin for supporting former President Donald Trump and for voting against certifying the 2020 election results. Zeldin has said he would favor appointing an anti-abortion state health commissioner and has criticized millions of dollars spent to help abortion providers amid an expected surge in out-of-state patients.
Republicans represent eight out of New York’s 27 previous congressional districts going into the 2022 election, with New York set to lose one of those seats. Democrats tried to create new federal and legislative political maps that would have cemented solid liberal majorities statewide. An upstate judge ended up ordering new sets of maps drawn by an independent court master, whose maps gave Democrats a smaller edge.
Roughly a third of New York’s House races are viewed as competitive, with Republicans in play in races on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley. In one of the most closely watched races, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the five-term Democrat who was supposed to be leading his party’s attempt to hold on to Congress, is fighting for survival in a district in the Hudson River Valley. One closely watched race in upstate New York is in the Syracuse area, where Republican Rep. John Katko is leaving after four terms. That race pits Republican and U.S. Navy veteran Brandon Williams against Democrat Francis Conole, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and current U.S. Naval Reserve captain.
Democrats over the past decade have amassed supermajorities in the state House and state Senate, after years of Republican control of the state Senate.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
ELECTION NIGHT
Polls close at 9 p.m. ET.
HOW NEW YORK VOTES
New York has expanded absentee voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic to allow voters to choose to vote by mail over fear of spreading the virus at the polls. A deluge of absentee ballots in 2020 led to some lengthy delays in vote-counting. Lawmakers passed a law requiring counties to start processing absentee ballots before Election Day in hopes of avoiding such delays. Republicans challenged the law in court, but a state appeals court ruled against them, saying it would would be “extremely disruptive” to abandon the new system with voting already underway.
New York voters defeated a ballot referendum in 2021 that would have changed the state constitution to allowed for no-excuse absentee voting. The state constitution requires absentee voters to be absent from their home county, ill, or physically disabled.
About 552,000 absentee ballots have been sent out with more than 188,000 returned so far, according to the state Board of Elections. Things happen quickly after the polls close. Because ballots have been flowing into country clerk offices for weeks — and are processed as they arrive — results from a huge chunk of the total vote are released within 90 minutes of polls closing at 7 p.m. local time.
Roughly two-thirds of voters in New York City are Democrats. Republicans enjoy the voter registration edge in western and northern New York counties. Republicans are also competitive on Long Island: About 30% of Nassau County voters are Republicans compared to 40% who are Democrats, while 31% of Suffolk County voters are Republicans compared to 34% who are Democrats.
New York hasn’t elected a statewide Republican elected official since former Gov. George Pataki, who served as governor from 1995 to 2006. For Zeldin to overtake Hochul, he’ll have to limit his loss margins in New York City and try to win over independent voters throughout the rest of the state. Independent voters outnumber Republicans in New York.
DECISION NOTES
The AP will count votes and declare winners in 189 contested elections in New York, including four statewide races and 26 U.S. House races. In the 2020 general election, the AP first reported results at 9:28 p.m. ET and 90% of results at 12:28 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 4. The AP reported 100% of results Thursday, Nov. 12, nine days after Election Day.
New York has a mandatory recount provision that kicks in if the margin of victory is 20 votes or less, is less than 0.5% or, in a contest where over 1 million ballots are cast, is less than 5,000 votes. The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.
The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2%. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?
A: A new law passed in 2021 allows the Board of Elections to begin processing mail ballots prior to Election Day, though it cannot begin tabulating results until an hour prior to the poll close on election day. Previously, absentee ballots could not be counted until seven days after election night. Mail ballots represented 21% of the 2020 vote in New York but will be a much smaller slice this year.
New York lost one U.S. house seat in congressional redistricting. The New York Assembly and Senate have also been the subject of redistricting. Population losses upstate and gains downstate may impact the balance of power in congressional district and state senate races. Further re-districting of the state assembly has been ordered for 2024.
Q: WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
A: As of Feb. 21, 2022, there were 12,982,819 registered voters in New York, including 6.47 million registered Democrats and 2.85 million registered Republicans. In 2018, advance ballots made up only 249,000 (4%) of 6.2 million votes cast. 2020 saw a seismic shift towards early voting, with advance ballots making up 4.4 million (50%) of 8.69 million votes cast.
Requests for absentee ballots must have been made by Oct. 24. Mail ballots must be returned in person by Nov. 8; those being sent by mail must be postmarked by Nov. 8, and received by Nov. 15.
Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?
A: The first reports of voting results from New York City are expected to be received as early as 9:05 p.m. ET. We expect results from the rest of the state may start to trickle in about 20 minutes later. It is likely that these early vote totals will reflect advance and mail ballots. Returns will continue to come in over the next few hours.
Q: WHAT ARE THE PITFALLS WITH EARLY RETURNS?
A: The new election rules allowing quicker tabulation of mail ballots will have a major impact on early returns. The first votes will likely be a report of advance and mail ballots. As with other recent races, the use of mail ballots has shown a partisan divide, with Democrats far more likely to use mail ballots than Republicans. This means early results may be skewed to one party or the other depending on the types of votes reported.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?
A: New York law provides for mandatory recounts if the margin of victory is 20 votes or less, is less than 0.5% or, in a contest where over 1 million ballots are cast, is less than 5,000 votes. This would occur after the state’s statutory recanvass.


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