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A watchdog group is requesting that media outlets release their plans for election night coverage amid heightened scrutiny over vote counting and the prospect that a winner in the presidential race may not be named until days after Election Day.

The (*SELF DESCRIBED*) National Task Force on Election Crises, a group of election experts and academics, released a letter Thursday that it sent to The Associated Press, Fox News and the National Election Pool, which includes the three broadcast networks and CNN, urging them to explain to the public how they intend to incorporate the expected avalanche of mail ballots in how they announce winners up and down the ballot.

The letter also warned that outlets will have to be wary that leads on the night of Election Day could be far from final in races where the mail ballots have yet to be counted, given that some states do not allow such votes to be counted until the day the election is actually held.


The media outlets all have election desks dedicated to projecting election winners. Their predictions are often based on early returns and exit polling and survey data. Those projections are often picked up by an array of other publications.

The task force is specifically asking the outlets to take several preemptive actions, including revealing how their exit polling will account for the increase in mail ballots, how they plan to “contextualize discrepancies” between Election Day results and final vote tallies, what kind of efforts they’re taking to protect their political desks from “internal and external pressure — political or otherwise,” and how they will balance their coverage of candidates who declare victory with their analysis of the actual race results.


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