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When should we expect election results? Officials say it could be a week

Not all states start counting at the same time and the process could take a while.

FORT WORTH, Texas — A handful of boarded-up businesses in Fort Worth and downtown Dallas look the same way many people feel right now: worried about what the week holds.

“It feels like time has been suspended,” University of North Texas political professor Kimi Lynn King said. “In this day and age, when we're so accustomed to having everything like that, that's not the way democracy works.”

Nationwide, Election Day will likely be Election Week, and if there are lawsuits, possibly Election Month.  

“This election really isn’t one that you can compare to any,” Collin County election administrator Bruce Sherbet said.

Collin County has the state’s highest percentage of voter turnout so far through three weeks of early voting at around 70%, but Sherbet expects to have the county’s 460,000 early votes tallied and on the county website within minutes of polls closing because Texas counties can process ballots early. 

Sherbet says to plan on expecting about an hour to 90-minute gap before Tuesday’s votes go up.

RELATED: On Election Day, slow results mean the system is working, not broken

“We’re lucky in Texas where we can start our processes,” he said. “You also have to make sure you go through the process in a very deliberate way.”

Florida, an important swing state, has also started to process ballots, and an early result there could also go a long way toward figuring out the election’s outcome.

“If you see Florida go, that's going to be the first thing that makes President Trump very unhappy,” King said.

In Pennsylvania, though, another crucial state with an expected tight margin, ballots can’t be counted until polls close, and could arrive three days later.

RELATED: When do polls close on Election Day? A guide to voting times in all 50 states

“You're not going to be able to make anything of it Election Night, to be quite honest with you,” King said. “The days of thinking that an election is over on Election Night are truly gone.”

One thing voters can know in advance is voting is secure and repeatedly tested.

“There are many, many audits and checks and safeguards in our process,” Sherbet said. “I would like for everyone to know that there are so many checks and balances.”

Sherbet says early voting lets them address any intimidation or electioneering, but anyone who experiences those issues should report them to parties, an election judge or the secretary of state’s office.

RELATED: VERIFY: Why we vote, despite the Electoral College's role in determining the president

King warns that videos or posts on social media shouldn’t be shared without context because it can make one event seem like a widespread issue.

“The things that the general public needs to be careful about are taking any individual incident and making something out of it,” she said.

Texas results are unofficial until mid-November certifications. The electoral college meets by mid-December.

Record turnout and unprecedented excitement are guaranteed, but with excitement comes fear of disappointment. Whatever the week holds, keep faith the process is working.

“Keep cool,” King said. “Keep calm. Keep patient. Keep reporting. Keep vigilant. Keep resilient. Keep voting.”

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