The NCSL Blog


By Wendy Underhill

Tomorrow is Election Day—but by no means the end of election processes.

What we learn tomorrow night, and on Wednesday and all the rest of the week, will be just preliminary news—not final results. Results need to be signed, sealed and delivered—and that takes days or weeks, depending on state law.

The processing and counting side of an election can be inside baseball, not something voters or the media generally care much about. In fact, there’s a translation issue between electionspeak and plain English. What a lay person thinks of as counting the votes is called “canvassing;” final reporting is called “certification;” litigating is called “a contested election” and may have deadlines; and whether a ballot is countable depends on “voter intent” laws.

Legislators care about these details, though. So, NCSL has just released new 50-state research on many of these processes and dusted off existing research on others.

The new: After the Voting Ends: The Steps to Complete an Election, which is the focus of this month’s elections newsletter, The Canvass. Learn all about canvass deadlines, certification deadlines, contested election deadlines and voter intent laws.

The dusted off: webpages on Election Recounts, the Electoral College, Electioneering, Polling Places (including a new section on state laws regarding law enforcement officers) and Resolving Tied Elections for Legislative Offices.

While waiting for those first preliminary data points from the states, read all about what comes after.

Wendy Underhill is the director of elections and redistricting at NCSL.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.