Wisconsin Elections Commission: How Votes will be Counted in the November 8 Election

Election officials do not “call” elections on Election Night. Wisconsin has never had a statewide system for reporting unofficial results on Election Night, and there is no central official website where results will be reported. Most of the unofficial results the public sees on Election Night and in the following days come from the Associated Press (AP) and other media reports.

For decades, the AP has collected unofficial results from county clerks’ offices and distributed totals to its member newspapers and radio and TV stations.  In recent years, other news organizations have also begun collecting and reporting unofficial Wisconsin results.  Election Night declarations of victory by a candidate are never based on official results but instead rely on incomplete results that are available at the time.  Winners are not official until the results are certified, which by Wisconsin state law happens on December 1.

For members of the public and the media who want detailed unofficial results directly from county clerks’ offices, the WEC will provide links to the 72 county clerk websites at the following link: https://elections.wi.gov/clerks/directory/county-websites

The link will also be posted on the homepage of the WEC’s website once the polls have closed: https://elections.wi.gov.

Polls normally close at 8 p.m. unless there are still voters waiting in line at 8 p.m.  If there are still absentee ballots that have not yet been counted at 8 p.m., poll workers will continue processing them until they are finished.  State law does not permit them to stop working until all of the absentee ballots have been counted.

Once all ballots have been processed and the polls are officially closed, the poll workers will convene what is known as the board of local canvassers.  This is a public meeting, and the media and public are welcome to attend.  The voting equipment will print a results tape, which will be read aloud, announcing the vote totals for that polling place.

Municipal clerks provide unofficial results to their county clerks, who will post them to the county’s website.  Municipal clerks must report unofficial 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.