Its always been suspect to me also. I have heard early votes are not even counted unless it is necessary. Can anyone confirm or refute that?
In Texas, the early voting numbers are posted shortly after the polls close.
I can refute that - I am a Board Member of a county Board Of Elections in Ohio. We count the votes. :)
In Ohio, absentee ballots are segregated until the polls close at 7:30pm. They are then sorted and tabulated. Early in-peson votes are counted in the same manner. Typically, we complete this process before the first of our precinct boxes are returned, so the early votes are counted first. Then the votes cast at precincts (except for provisional ballots) are tabulated, and then the provisional ballots are counted. We count every ballot that can legally be couned.
In 2012, 53% of all ballots cast in Ohio were voted absentee or early, and that percentage will likely increase this year. As our Secretary of State says, we "make it easy to vote and hard to cheat".