Counting votes: How the media figure out who won


WASHINGTON (AP) — Government officials get the final say on who wins elections. But the media get the first word on election night, an important role in the democratic process of a nation that demands fast and accurate information.

In the United States, most states don't announce official election results until weeks after Election Day. Florida, for example, is scheduled to certify its results Nov. 20 — two weeks after the polls close.

The public can get unofficial results in some states from government websites on election night or early the next day. But most Americans are pretty certain they know who won from news media. They play a large role not only in reporting election results but also figuring out who won, usually long before the last votes are counted and certified.

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