- Many Internet users question the legitimacy of the media to designate the name of the winner in the US presidential election first.
- In the absence of a federal body responsible for centralizing the results in real time, it is nevertheless they who have taken the habit of publishing the provisional results, on the basis of exit polls and counting in the counties. .
- The vote of the electors will take place on December 14, once the results have been certified by the governors of each state.
Who is responsible for announcing the name of the winner of the US presidential election? Certainly not to the media, judge many Internet users, who have questioned their legitimacy in appointing Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States this Saturday, after a long period of uncertainty, even though Donald Trump has still not recognized his defeat.
In this post, seen more than 15,000 times on Facebook in the last 24 hours, one internet user, like many others, denounces a media “coup” and wonders why the mainstream media are able to induct a winner before the US federal administration. “It is neither their role nor their authority,” he argues. However, this process is not really surprising.
The United States does not have a federal agency responsible for centralizing the results of the presidential ballot and proclaiming the name of the winner. Each state is responsible for organizing the elections on its territory and for counting the votes at the end of the count. For decades, the media have become accustomed to collecting the results of the popular vote – and therefore being able to know the name of the “winner”.
Although decried by supporters of Donald Trump this year, this ancient practice has so far proven its worth. “There is nothing fraudulent in this, explains Nicole Bacharan, historian specializing in the United States. Donald Trump knows it too, since he had accepted the same report from the media that designated him the winner four years earlier! “
Over the decades, this practice has become considerably structured. Thus, with 4,000 observers posted across the country for this election, the Associated Press has been the reference since 1848. The latter, which works with the NORC (National Opinion Research Center) of the University of Chicago, also has its own polling tool, AP Votecast, which she shares with the conservative Fox News channel, or with the Washington Post.
Next is ABC News, CBS News, CNN and NBC News, which rely in particular on exit polls from a second consortium, the National Election Pool. The existence of two survey entities thus explains the differences that have sometimes been observed between the various American television channels.
An exacerbated caution this year
This year, with more than 60 million voters casting their ballots by mail, the media knew the votes would take time to be counted. Caution was therefore required in American editorial staff, as the magazine pointed out. Forbes the head of the unit responsible for validating the results at Fox News for twenty years, Arnon Mishkin: “We have instructed our journalists not to draw hasty conclusions if a provisional result is in contradiction with a poll preceding the vote. “
As expected, the results were delayed and were not decisive until the fourth count, last Saturday. The media were then certain that Joe Biden had obtained the sufficient number of voters, namely 270.
The rest of the process
It is only about a week after the end of the poll that governors will certify the election results in each state. The recount operations and appeals to the Supreme Court must have been decided before December 8.
The voters’ vote will take place on December 14 and will be sent to the Senate in Washinton DC within nine days, or December 23 at the latest. Congress will then appoint the president on January 6, before “Inauguration Day”, which will take place on January 20. During the transition period, Joe Biden does not have any powers provided for in the American Constitution.