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Remember who really counts the votes

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By Merilee Dannemann

The books are almost closed on the recent election.

I hope we all have learned this truth: Nobody promised you final results on Election Night. Or for several days after, for that matter.

Please get that straight. If the votes don’t all get counted within the first few hours, that does not mean anything went wrong.

We’re spoiled because the TV networks have very accurate analytical methods to project results. Usually the projections are right, but not always.

If CNN or CBS News or Channel 7 announces a winner, that announcement has no constitutional or legal standing.

None whatsoever. Those announcements are estimates by private news organizations.  

What’s real is votes counted by county clerks, watched by observers of both (or maybe more than two) parties. If that takes a few days, it just means something happened to make it take longer. For races above county level, the results are not final until they are certified by the Secretary of State several days later.

In-person votes are the easiest to count. Those ballots, both from early voting and Election Day, go through machines that record and tally them. The totals are added as precinct officials close up and take their materials to the county clerk.


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