HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Election night could turn into election week, according to political experts.
In three of the last five presidential elections, 2000, 2004 and 2016, the count went past midnight and this year is expected to be no different. The large number of mail-in ballots that have to be verified and the likelihood of close races could slow returns.
"We should stop thinking about Election Day and start thinking about election days," said Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston. "It not only takes a long time for the vote to be processed, it sometimes takes a long time to report the results of that. People should be patient. We have been used to a game show-like atmosphere when we watch TV and get the results right away, but the reality is, in really close elections, if you want to be careful about how the process goes, you need to be patient."
Specifically, Rottinghaus said, with some of the Texas House races that could be separated by just 100 to 200 votes.
Those will likely have to be recounted for accuracy. On the flip side, a winner in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican John Cornyn and Democrat MJ Hegar could come sooner, he said.
"I think we'll know the senate race earlier than many. That's the race that's not as competitive. It could be that the numbers close in the last few days so it might be the case that it is a little bit later, but that typically is the race that we'll see a response to very early," he said.
In Harris County, the huge early voter turnout could help speed up results. It seems no one is naive about this election.
"I think no matter what happens, one side or the other is going to dispute it," voter Brooks Vasquez told ABC13.
Meanwhile, Diane Nizza, a retired teacher, is preparing for a long few days.
"I think we have to be patient. I don't think we'll know tomorrow," she said.