Criteria for calling U.S. Elections ahead of all votes being counted

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Two full days following Election Day, many states remain with thousands of votes not counted, but races have been called. While the United States of America does not have a National Election Committee, it does have the Associated Press (AP).

For over 170 years, AP has called nearly every U.S. election aside from one in the year 2000. While the world waited for Florida’s votes to be counted, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled George W. Bush as the President of the United States. While an isolated instance, many on social media speculate it could come to a similar decision for Election 2020.

Gibbs Knotts, a Political Science Professor for the College of Charleston, said a repeat of 2000 seems unlikely. He detailed the process AP takes is extensive so to ensure they have the most accurate calling even without all of the votes being counted.

They’re looking at the margin, so how much a candidate is up by, how many votes are still outstanding, whether they think that the uncounted votes would be able to sway it one way or another. And then in the bigger races for the U.S. Senate and the Presidency I think they also look at exit polling. So, they have a sense of what people say they did when they leave. Then they take all that together and they try to make a call. 

Gibbs Knotts, Political Science Professor College of Charleston 

While not all of the votes were counted in South Carolina before AP’s call for a Presidential victor as well as Congressional and Senate races, Knotts put the process in the terms of a local election—called earlier than expected. 

Say that Mace was up by 10,000 votes and there were 10,000 votes left to count, again, I don’t work for AP, but my guess is they’d be okay doing that because they are saying there’s no way all 10,000 votes are for one particular candidate or the other so. But again, they try to air really on the side of caution.  

Gibbs Knotts, Political Science Professor College of Charleston 

Despite calling the races, AP’s math does not always constitute a defeat. Instead, many concede following their overviews.

However, a candidate has the right to wait until the very end and exhaust any potential challenges that go on before a final outcome is made public. 

Knotts said overall, he hopes that a victor will be declared on a presidential scale by the end of this week as after that, it could become a matter of national security.

To see where the Election stands now, click here.

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