The COVID-19 outbreak is affecting every part of our lives in this country. The primary elections and our ability to collect and report results are not immune. We wanted to take this opportunity to explain the steps we are taking to ensure that we are doing everything possible to continue our work in the most responsible way moving forward.
At Decision Desk HQ our collection model is unique in that it is based in large part on remote collection. Technological advances in election offices enable us to collect results in most cases through online feeds, remote monitoring of publicly available postings by election officials, and by intaking results via email, phone, and even fax, from election officials.
In some limited cases, the fastest way to get results is the traditional method of placing a reporter in an election official’s office to receive the results in person. However, with calls by government leaders and public health officials to limit interactions where possible and for people to work remotely, we have been considering our processes and how best to address this challenge. After receiving feedback from several local election officials, and out of an abundance of caution, we are suspending our use of in- person results collection. We do this out of concern not only for our election night in-person reporters but alsothe hardworking election officials who will do everything they can to ensure that no matter what voters are able to express their will at the ballot box.
It is likely that the issue of public gatherings and voting will receive much more attention in the coming days. Maryland is investigating the possibility of moving to an all mail-in system for its primaries next month. We simply want to be proactive. We will continue to work with officials to ensure that we have results in as timely a way as possible.
Given the resources we have at our disposal to collect results in other ways, we feel this is a prudent step to take. What this means for you is in a few counties the speed we normally report results at may be a bit slower than they would be otherwise. That is something we are willing to accept given the circumstances. In most cases however, we still expect to be the fastest and most accurate source of election night results.
Events have been moving quickly and November is a long way off but we want to assure you that given the design of our system and how few in-person reporters we normally use even for a national election night, we will certainly be able to provide results from every state, county, and municipality for the general elections. We understand this is a relatively minor consideration given the issues facing our country, but we’ve always made transparency a hallmark of our work. It’s in that spirit that we wanted to take this opportunity to share with you our approach and thinking.
We, like you no doubt, look forward to things returning to normal as soon as possible. Until then, it is our intention to continue to collect and report election results in the fastest way possible consistent with the situation we find ourselves in.