How can the AP call the races right when the polls close?


FILE – “I voted” stickers are displayed at a polling place in Cheyenne, Wyo, August 16, 2022 (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert, File) The Associated Press

As snap polls close across the country on Tuesday, the Associated Press could declare the winners of some races in this year’s midterm elections.

How is this possible, before the results are published? Let’s see how the AP can declare a winner before the first ballots are counted.

First, a quick reminder of why and how the PA does this work: the country’s founders did not set up a national agency to count votes. Each state does it a little differently.

On election night, the PA counts the nation’s votes, tallying the results of millions of ballots as reported by local election officials to arrive at the grand total of thousands of races up and down the ballot. It’s been that way since 1848, when the PA counted the vote that ended with Zachary Taylor being elected president.

The way the tally is counted includes tons of preparation, journalists in all 50 states, and a network of approximately 4,000 freelancers or temp freelancers.

So what about those racial appeals that land at the close of the polls – before the votes have been officially counted?

Some are in uncontested races, or those with only one candidate on the ballot. And then there are races with multiple candidates, but in which one party or candidate has a history of consistent and convincing victories.

In those states, the AP may use the results of AP VoteCast, a survey of the American electorate to determine why voters voted the way they did, to confirm a candidate’s victory.

“The poll results — along with our analysis of early voting and other statistics — confirm our expectation that long-standing political trends in these states will continue,” said David Scott, editor who helps oversee coverage. elections by PA.

Still, the AP won’t call the winner of a race before the last polls close in a jurisdiction, including in states where polls don’t all close at the same time.

The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it is determined that there is no scenario that would allow the candidates in the tail to close the gap. Even if one candidate has claimed victory and others have conceded, Scott said, noting that declarations of victory can be premature and concessions can be withdrawn.

“Only when we determine that the candidates in the tail have no further path to victory do we call a race and send the APNewsAlert declaring that a candidate has won,” Scott said. “In a small number of cases, this can happen as soon as all polling stations are closed.”


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