Exit polls survey a small fraction voters as they leave their polling places, and provide useful data about the voting tendencies of the electorate by race, income, gender, age, and a host of other factors.
While they can provide a window into the changing voting habits of different demographics or give an early indication as to which way future contests will tip, they are by no means an official vote tally. That is one reason why exit poll results have for years not been released until after all of the polls have closed, so as not to affect the outcome. (Once they are available, they will posted on an array of news sites and networks, including CNN.)
That changed this year: Votecastr is a new initiative that will provide live estimates about how each candidate is faring throughout the day. The updates will be shared by Votecastr’s media partners, Slate and Vice. It should be emphasized that these will be estimates, based on a sampling of voter surveys, and new data will continue to come in until after the polls have closed.
These exit polls should not be confused with the reported vote tallies, which come mainly from the Associated Press and are shared with myriad news organizations, or the official vote tally, which will be certified by the state Secretaries of State in the days following the election.
[image: Lindsay D’Addato, via Flickr. CC BY 2.0]
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