United States Election Assistance Comittee

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What happens after the polls close on Election Day?

from: Jessica Myers on Dec 06, 2012


What happens after the polls close on Election Day?
On Election Day, after the close of polls, results are reported from each precinct or polling place to the County Election Office.* These are the results you see on the news and on your State or County website on Election Night. These results are considered unofficial results.
After Election Day, counties begin their official canvass of the election, usually within a day or two after Election Day, although each State has its own regulations. During the official canvass, Election officials:
·         review the results returned by each polling place;
·         tally vote by mail and/or absentee ballots;
·         process provisional ballots;
·         inspect all materials issued and returned from the polling place;
·         reconcile the number of ballots with the number of voters;
·         count valid write ins;
·         conduct any required audits and/or recounts; and
·         certify the official results and provide those to the Secretary of State within the required timeframe.
The results certified by the Local Election Official and provided to the Secretary of State are considered official results. More information about tabulating Election results is available here.
In Presidential Elections, there is another step in the process to officially elect the President – The Electoral College. Prior to the Presidential Election, each political party submits a roster of electors to each state individually. After Election Day, the roster of electors for the winning party makes up the Electoral College for each State. After the results from the November 6 election are tabulated and certified, the State transmits the certified results and names of the electors to the Archivist of the U.S.
Electors in the Electoral College from each state meet only once, on December 17, 2012, at a location determined by each state. Once convened, the electors in each state cast one vote for President and one vote for Vice President. From these votes a certificate is created with two lists of the results for President and Vice President. Four copies identical copies of this list are created and a copy is mailed to the President of the Senate (Vice President of the U.S.), Secretary of State of their state, the Archivist of the U.S. and the District Judge of the location where the Electoral College met.
Then on January 6, 2013, the Vice President of the U.S. presides over a joint session of Congress where the certificates from each Electoral College are opened and read aloud. After the votes are counted the Vice President announces the results and calls for any objections. If there are no objections and each candidate receives at least 270 of the 538 Electoral College votes, the election results are official. More information about the Electoral College is available here.
If you have additional questions, please contact Jessica Myers at jmyers@eac.gov or via Twitter (@EACgov).
*NOTE: Instead of counties, Alaska is divided into boroughs and Louisiana into parishes. In some states, the local election jurisdictions consist of municipalities and townships.
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What happens after the polls close on Election Day?

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