ORLANDO, Fla. – The announcement of election results is an important part of the democratic process and accuracy in the announcement of elections is essential to build trust in the process.
Most Americans are used to polling results being pulled on election night, and in recent years have wondered when the results take days to be pulled.
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At News 6, we rely on the Associated Press to schedule races in Florida and the US, which are usually based on ground data.
When it comes to local races — things like the county board, city mayor, etc. — News 6 will name those races themselves, and we rely on a very conservative process.
News 6 will have the results for dozens of local Election Night races across Central Florida.
When deciding whether to call races, two things are important – how many constituencies have applied and how close the vote is.
If we see an overwhelming majority for a candidate – at least 60% – and a majority of the districts come forward, we can announce that a candidate has won a race.
We don’t make calls in tighter races in case there are recounts.
We get these numbers from the District Returning Officers, who publish the numbers as counted on their websites. You can see the results for yourself.
Note that if you see numbers within the first half hour after polling stations close, it’s because Florida counties can process and count absentee ballots and early ballots before polling stations close on Election Day.
Races in Florida and USA
The Associated Press has a process for calling state and federal elections, with a year-round team that knows all the rules for each state and what to expect in terms of ballot counting.
Here is some information straight from AP:
A massive undertaking
With political reporters in key states across the country — and on-the-ground reporters in all 50 states — AP has an unparalleled footprint for election-related coverage in text, photos, video and live video. From the places they know best, AP reporters broadcast what they see in the election and report any problems that arise.
In addition to its own journalists, the AP has about 4,000 stringers — temporary freelancers — who, through years of trusting relationships with county officials and other local officials, collect vote counts at the local level and forward them to AP voting centers.
Hundreds of election workers take these calls, jot down the lists, and enter the results into AP’s election database. Because many states and counties post their election night results on websites, some officials monitor those websites and also enter the results into the database.
Accuracy is most important
All figures are checked several times for correctness.
Voters ask questions to verify the information they receive, e.g. B. if there are problems in the stringer’s county, and question the details if something is wrong.
Automated checks also detect issues with the data, such as B. Inconsistencies with a county’s prior election history or other data. For example, if more votes cast are reported than there are registered voters in a county, an alert appears on the clerk’s screen and summons a supervisor.
AP’s team of full-time election research and quality control analysts monitor and examine results for anomalies, using sophisticated statistical tools and AP proprietary research to ensure accuracy.
In 2020, AP was 99.9% accurate on US race announcements and 100% accurate on presidential and congressional elections for every state.
Who makes the call – and how?
On election night itself, callers in each state are provided with detailed information from AP’s election research team, including demographics, the number of absentee ballots, and political issues that may affect the outcome of the races they schedule.
According to AP polling editor Stephanie Ohlemacher, this year’s general election will see about 60 people involved in declaring winners in more than 7,000 races across the country, with some focusing specifically on types of races like congressional, gubernatorial and electoral focus on legislative competitions.
Based in Washington, the executive editors of AP’s decision-making team provide final approval for races for the President, Governor, US Senate and key races for the US House of Representatives, and consult with race organizers across the country on other statewide races.
The AP makes no predictions and will only declare a winner if it is determined that there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap.
“When the votes come in and meet our expectations, it’s much easier to declare a winner,” said Ohlemacher. “When the voices come and contradict our expectations, we hit the brakes. We do not name a winner until there is no way for the trailing candidate to catch up with the leader.”
For more information on how the Associated Press calls federal and state races, see these articles:
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