Based on my experience of watching elections for nearly forty years, there are two factors at play here.
First, urban areas have **MANY** more voters than rural areas. Let's say an urban precinct gets the usual last-minute rush of voters right before the polls close. That used to be a bigger deal before electronic voting machines, but even with the current machines, that can be a long line of people, all of whom have the right to vote if they're in line by the time the polls close. By comparison, in a suburban or rural precinct, the last-minute voters may delay the end of voting by just a few minutes.
Second, rural areas are physically farther away from the county courthouse. In my county, it takes a minimum of 30 minutes to drive from the farthest-out large rural precinct, and for one tiny precinct on the back side of Fort Leonard Wood, it can take 45 minutes to drive from there to the courthouse.
In very rural states, those distances can create huge delays in reporting the vote totals.
I'm not going to say voter fraud doesn't happen, but it's not the main reason for the delayed ballots.
Yeah, I know. But it’s still frustrating. To see Rick ahead so late gave me hope!