On election night in November, everyone will need to take a deep breath and calm down.


Why? Because we may well not know all the winners or even know in the first couple of days. This won’t be a bad thing, or any cause for suspicion. Instead, we should welcome any delay because it shows that our system is dedicated to counting the votes of every single person, as thoroughly and accurately as possible.


The cause, of course, is the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people will be voting via absentee ballot for the first time, meaning that their mailed-in votes may not be counted at the same time as those cast in person. Some states are implementing extensive vote-by-mail systems for the first time in response to concerns over voting safety.


Thankfully, in Kansas it’s fairly easy to request and vote via absentee ballot, and there are convenient early voting locations open as well. The challenges with results may well not happen in our state. Honestly, we hope that’s the case.


But nationally, it’s more than possible that the results in the presidential election or high-profile U.S. Senate races may be up in the air for days.


The news media should resist any temptation to call these races early or to amplify voices that may try to cast doubt on the mail-in counting process. Swing states may see the winner of the presidential contest switch from incumbent to challenger, from challenger to incumbent, and back again.


That’s not evidence of a conspiracy. That will be evidence of our democracy working effectively, however long it takes. We should insist on accurate, honest and fair elections. Taking however much time is needed to do that helps us all achieve that goal.


Knowledge is power for all of us. Elections are administered on a state-by-state basis, which means that rules about vote tabulation vary. Some states will count mail-in ballots before Election Day, while others will wait. So we will have nearly definitive results from some areas on the day, while others will lag.


Regardless, however, of how long the results take to arrive, we should all seize the opportunity to have our voices heard. We all must vote, whether that’s through the mail, early in person or on Election Day.


And then we must be patient.