AP: Nevada caucus results will lag behind Google & Twitter, but will be checked for accuracy

Associated Press | Twitter Developers | Poynter

The AP has issued a news release describing how it will disseminate voting results for Saturday's Nevada caucus, which the state Republican party will release via Twitter and Google. It will be the second time a state party has worked with Google to count and release results, and the first time Twitter will be used.

As in Iowa, anyone will be able to access the party's vote count, for free, without relying on news outlets. Google and Twitter are providing the data in machine-readable formats that can be used to create news apps. (WYNC's John Keefe has explained how to use Google's data to create an elections results map.) Google also will provide an embed code to place a map of election results on any website.

Google will release precinct-level and county-level results on Google Fusion tables, which can be fed into news apps. The Nevada GOP will tweet statewide vote counts via @nvgop and machine-readable, precinct-level results via @NVVoteCount. (If you're a human, stick to the @nvgop feed.)

AP's elections team will use the Twitter or Google feeds for its results, but it will run them through a "gauntlet" of checks before sending them out to its users. As in Iowa, AP's results will most likely lag behind those from Twitter and Google:

What happens in Nevada depends on what the party does with the tabulation and how well the results are made available by Twitter and Google. AP results will almost certainly be a few minutes behind the race level results that the party is releasing through a Twitter account and Google maps, as announced last Friday by the Nevada GOP, because we still expect to need a couple of minutes to parse and ingest the feed, and have it go through our software checks and out in our report cycles.

And we might purposely hold back on reporting some results if they are flagged by our quality-control checks and analysts.

If AP finds inconsistencies, staff will ask state or county officials to check the results. In the meantime, the AP may make its own changes to the results it sends out.

AP's news release explains how the results of a caucus are different from a primary or general election. Elections officials are required to use specific voting machines and software, but most parties running caucuses don't have have such equipment. "This is where Google Apps have filled a need -- by providing some state parties with software and tools to tally and report results."

The main point of AP's release: There's a big difference between counting votes from a single caucus -- in this case, one with relatively few votes -- and counting the results of a primary election, and especially a general election.

On any given election night, AP elections staffers assess and compare results from two, three or four sources. That means the AP tabulation, far from being just a report of numbers delivered from a single source, is often a mixture of reports from stringers, feeds, examinations of state websites and examinations of county websites. In the Nevada caucuses, we will have a single source to depend on -- the Nevada GOP.

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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