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Media Advisory: Covering the November 2016 General Election

Date: 
November 4, 2016

Madison, WI – Anticipating a high level of state and national media interest in covering Wisconsin’s General  Election voting on November 8, 2016, the Wisconsin Elections Commission is issuing this advisory.  This is for planning purposes only, and not intended for publication or distribution.

At the Polling Place
Members of the news media may be inside polling places on Election Day, subject to most of the same restrictions on other election observers. Please refer to our election observer brochure (http://elections.wi.gov/publications/brochures/observer-rules) for details. Reporters and photographers may wish to print the brochure to take with them in the event there are questions.
 
Unlike voters and regular election observers, media may record sound, images and video inside the polling place, as long as it is not disruptive. You may use cell phones or tablets to take pictures and video, something regular observers are not allowed to do. However, no media may broadcast live or tape broadcasts (stand-ups) from within a polling place.
 
When you arrive at a polling place, find the Chief Election Inspector and notify him or her who you are and what organization you represent. The Chief Inspector keeps a list of media, but you are not required to sign in.
You may not contact (interview) voters when they are in line waiting to vote. The only people authorized to have contact with voters prior to voting are the election workers. Please do not take images/video of voters’ faces going into polling places, which some voters find intimidating. Photographing lines of voters should not be a problem. After voters have finished, you are free to ask them for interviews outside the polling place. Please do not block the exits.
 
The best sources of information about polling places are municipal clerks. A directory of clerks is on our website: http://elections.wi.gov/clerks/directory.
 
Election Day Issues
For updates on how voting is going on Election Day, follow our Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/WI_Elections. When we know something, we’ll post it. 
 
Counting the Vote
Wisconsin does not have a statewide system for reporting unofficial results on Election Night, and there is not a central website where results will be reported.  We do have a link to the 72 county clerk websites, where clerks are required to post unofficial results: http://elections.wi.gov/clerks/directory/county-websites .  Clerks will be posting unofficial results in a few different formats, including HTML, PDF and spreadsheets.  The most reliable source of statewide totals is the Associated Press, which gathers information from all 72 counties and provides unofficial results to its members. Some media organizations in Wisconsin that are not AP members are also collecting election results.
 
After the polls close at 8 p.m., the election workers will count any absentee ballots that have not been counted throughout the day and announce the vote totals for that polling place. They will also take care of the administrative work required before taking the results to the municipal clerk. The municipal clerk then provides the unofficial results to the county clerk, who will post them to the county’s website.  Under a recently-enacted law, municipal clerks must forward results to the county clerk within two hours of the results being tabulated, and county clerks must post the results within two hours of receiving them from the municipal clerk.  
 
Municipalities are required to post the number of outstanding absentee ballots and provisional ballots on the internet on Election Night.  Provisional ballots are issued to voters who do not have an acceptable ID on Election Day.  Voters have until 8 p.m. on Election Day or 4 p.m. on Friday, November 11 to bring an acceptable photo ID to the municipal clerk’s office to have their vote counted.
 
Counties must convene their boards of canvass to certify official results by 9 a.m. on Tuesday, November 15. While we expect official results to come in relatively quickly, the deadline for counties to provide certified results to the Wisconsin Elections Commission is Tuesday, November 22. The deadline for the Commission to certify statewide results is December 1, 2016.
 
Recount Rules
If the election is close and a losing candidate wants to ask for a recount, the candidate must wait until the last day a county board of canvassers meets, and the deadline for requesting a recount is three business days after the Elections Commission receives the last statement from a county board of canvassers. For more information about recounts, please see consult the information here: http://elections.wi.gov/elections-voting/recount .
 
Election Day Interviews
News media wishing to set up interviews may contact Public Information Officer Reid Magney at 608-267-7887 or email reid.magney@wi.gov or Administrator Michael Haas at 608-266-0136, or email michael.haas@wi.gov.