By now, baseball fans likely know the basics of the Hall of Fame voting process. Members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America receive their ballots, make their selections and mail them back -- but where exactly do those ballots go?
As it turns out, they don't go directly to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The ballots actually go to New York City -- but, even then, not to the location you might think.
No, writers don't send their picks to Major League Baseball headquarters. Instead, they mail them to Ernst & Young, the company that certifies and validates the voting process.
That's where all of the ballots for this year's election have been sitting for more than a month -- and each one remains unopened. They will stay that way until Tuesday, when the results are tabulated ahead of the live reveal at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network. MLB Network’s Hall of Fame program on Tuesday starts at 4 p.m ET and will be simulcast on MLB.com and in the MLB app on connected devices.
That's right, nobody -- not the Hall of Fame nor the BBWAA -- has a running tally of the votes as they pour in, according to Jon Shestakofsky, the Hall of Fame's vice president of communications and education. Ernst & Young stays in contact with the HOF throughout the process to inform which ballots have arrived, but the contents of said ballots remain confidential.
In other words, HOF representatives know just as much about potential 2022 inductees as the general public at this point. Like many baseball fans, though, they've been monitoring Ryan Thibodaux's Baseball Hall of Fame Tracker to get an idea of what may happen on Tuesday evening.
Thibodaux compiles the ballots that are made public by reporters, whether it be on Twitter, in columns or elsewhere. Some of those ballots come in almost immediately after they were sent out to BBWAA members on Nov. 22, while others come in closer to the deadline. With ballots needing to be postmarked by Dec. 31, most of them arrived at Ernst & Young prior to the end of the year, though a few stragglers took it right down to the wire with a Dec. 31 postmark.
As for what the big day will be like, representatives from the Hall of Fame, BBWAA and Ernst & Young will gather together on Tuesday to begin conducting the count. That process "can run for hours," per Shestakofsky, as every vote is counted and double-checked before the final results are turned over to the Hall of Fame.
Only "five or so" people will know those results prior to the Hall of Fame contacting any potential inductees to tell them the good news -- but the rest of the world will finally be clued in on the outcome of the months-long process at 6 ET that night.
The 2022 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on July 24 in Cooperstown.