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.