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In U.S., media announce elections results, not electoral commission

Media networks are the platforms that announce elections results and declare winners of elections in the U.S., rather than the election commission, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

The U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosed this on Thursday to a correspondent of NAN participating in the U.S. 2016 General Elections Embed Programme.

Two Nigerian journalists from NAN and Channels Television are among the 24 participants at the programme drawn from 15 countries.

The programme is being administered by the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) and sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Press Centres and U.S. Embassy Posts.

Christian Hilland, Deputy Press Officer of FEC told NAN that the commission did not tabulate or announce winners of elections.

“As I’ve already mentioned, the Federal Election Commission does not perform vote tabulation and it certainly does not announce winners of elections.

“While there isn’t an official central body for you to follow on election night, the major news stations will surely be tracking state-by-state vote results.

“You may also wish to contact the National Archives, which has voting and election resources,” Hilland said.

Patrick Butler, the Vice President, Programmes at the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ), also reinforced Hilland’s position, saying that the counting of votes is done at the Counties and States levels.

“There is no national organisation doing votes counting or announcement of winners; it is done by the networks such as CNN, AP, among others.

“What does happen is that each `county has its own electoral board that counts the votes and there are party observers who are watching the counts.

“The Electoral College meets and decides the winner of the presidential election but there is no national election body that announces.

A Professor of Political Science at the Christopher Newport University, Quentin Kidd, said the networks announce the presidential election results by calling each state through exit polling.

He said: “Exit polling is a poll of people leaving a polling place, asking how they voted, and pollsters use the data to project how all voters or segments of voters’ side on a particular race or ballot measure.’’

“So the national networks will be projecting who wins each state through exit polling.

“There won’t start projecting states until about 7 p.m. because they made an informal agreement not to declare states votes until California votes,” he said.

According to him, however, the state elections board also officially announce the election results at the state level after sorting out absentee and mailing ballots.

“However, it usually takes sometimes a week, 10 days, and sometimes month to sort out absentee ballots and mailing ballots are sorted out and officially say who the winner is.

“But unless the election that close, it’s clear who wins; the margin does not usually affect the outcome of the election,” he said.

The U.S. presidential candidates are elected by a group of 538 members of the Electoral College and not by a popular vote.

While the president-elect would already be known on Nov. 8 through exit polling, the Electoral College would officially meet in December to formally vote for the candidates.


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