First Aid Kit Card: Election Day

Election SOS First Aid Kit: Election Day



It’s finally here: Tuesday, Nov. 3. Election Day. Whether you’re in a newsroom or out in the field, here’s what you need to know to cover Election Day effectively.

Covering the Polls:

  • VotingWorks has put together a handy guide on what to do when the polls close. This is a given, but there won’t be official results on Election Night.
  • Also, be wary of exit polling. Election SOS’ own Christiana Lily breaks down all things polling in this training video.

The Results:

  • The Brennan Center for Justice breaks down how votes will actually be tabulated on Election Night, including how absentee ballots are centralized at the polls. Don’t have time to watch the video? There’s also the slide deck.
  • And, just be patient while contextualizing converge. Poynter notes that the increase in vote-by-mail will make calling the election earlier that much harder.

While You Wait:

  • Report what you can publicly. PEN America’s Reporters Guide notes that, if there’s potential civil unrest, to report the denominator. Is it an isolated incident? Are other incidents taking place?
  • When reporting on numbers, the National Task Force on Election Crises says to preface “X% reporting” with disclaimers and additional context. Confirm with election officials what those percentages actually mean.

For TV Journalists:

  • Be mindful of what you’re presenting on screen and how it’s contextualized. Is airtime for an isolated event really necessary?
  • Showcase people or institutions doing it right on Election Day. For example, a peaceful protest or a smooth voting process.
  • Consider booking and interviewing election historians, not just partisan pundits. Use our database to connect with a Trusted Expert.

Next Steps: