How to Interpret Election Results

Election results may be summarized in several ways. These include graphical election results, statistics, dynamic mapping of selected results, printing capabilities, and export to CSV functionality. Statistical reports include parish, state, and combined active and inactive files. One business day after the early voting period, the cumulative early voting statistics are published. For more information on how to interpret the election results, see the following articles:

Voter turnout

As such, debates frequently ensue about the effect of election reforms on turnout. In the 2020 election, rapid changes in election administration caused heated debates on election reforms.

Electoral registration methods have a significant impact on turnout. However, during the period of validity, many people moved away from home or were studying.

Voting age population (VAP) turnout

Voting age population (VAP) is the category of voters over the age of 18 who are eligible to vote in an election. This group includes all eligible citizens, non-citizens, and even convicted felons.

However, methodological differences between VAP and RV can lead to discrepancies. In general, turnout is lower for positions involving largely ceremonial functions, such as European Parliament members. Moreover, there are no current voting-age population estimates for Japan and Iceland, where compulsory voting is the norm.

The rate of voter turnout in the U.S. has remained comparatively constant over the past several decades, though it varies based on the election. Since 1976, the percentage of voters of voting age has been in a range of 8.5 percent. In 1996, the proportion of eligible voters was lower than 50%, and in 2008, the percentage was over 58%. Moreover, the age, race, and ethnicity of voters play important roles in determining voter turnout.

Provisional ballots

The process of counting provisional ballots in an election is a bit different than voting in a traditional election.

The deadline for counting provisional ballots is typically three to five days after an election. However, in some cases, the timeframes are longer. In Illinois, for example, HB 2418 required election officials to transmit information about provisional voters within two days of the election. Texas and Virginia also adopted time frames to count provisional ballots.


The margin must be less than 0.5% of the total vote cast in the election. However, it may not exceed 20 votes. The process of requesting a recount must be conducted in a timely manner. In Washington State, there are specific deadlines for requesting a recount. See Table 3 for details. The state requires that counties notify candidates of the deadline and provide observers with enough time to watch the process.

The cost of a recount is not always affordable. A recent study of election recounts in Oakland County, Michigan, found that almost half of these processes cost more than $100 per precinct. While this may seem high, some county officials report that recounts have a beneficial impact on fair elections. They provide a “trail” that can identify any irregularities in the election process. Ideally, recount fees are reasonable and should not be more than $10 per precinct.

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