Posted in Behind the News

AP’s top editor: It’s our role to factually report election results

, by Patrick Maks

In an interview Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” Executive Editor Sally Buzbee explained why the public can trust The Associated Press to accurately deliver the results of the U.S. presidential election in November. 

“We are completely non-partisan, and what we do is report the facts and that’s why people can trust us. We will be entirely transparent on election night,” Buzbee said. “It is not our role to say who should win this election. It is our role to factually report to the United States and to the world what has happened and that is what we will do”

She pointed to AP’s history of accuracy in counting the vote in U.S. elections for more than 170 years:

In this screen grab from video, AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee speaks about AP's role in elections on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Aug. 2, 2020. (AP Photo)
We have been doing this since 1848. We have done it through the Civil War, we’ve done it through the pony express, we’ve done it through the troubles of the 60s, we did it through World War II. On election night in 2016, we were the first people to declare that Donald Trump had been the winner. 

The public should be prepared for slower election results this year, Buzbee said, due to an influx of mail-in and absentee voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. She also made clear voters should not conflate delayed results with election fraud, as states grapple with mail-in voting for the first time:

There are going to be additional states this year that are dealing with this for the first year and it probably means that they will go slower. It does not at all mean that there will necessarily be fraud or anything like that. Those two things are not connected. They probably — to be careful and to have accurate vote counts — will probably tabulate the results more slowly, so we are anticipating for that reason that the vote will probably be slower this year. 

Asked how AP is preparing for the 2020 election, Buzbee said:

What we’re doing is an enormous amount of research to make sure that we understand how each state is going to handle its election, what its laws and procedures are going to be, how they’re going to handle mail-in voting and things like that, so that we can communicate that to our customers and the news organizations that depend on us for that vote count on election night so that everyone can have as clear and factual and transparent of an idea of how this election will work as possible.

Watch a replay of Buzbee’s interview. 

See how AP counts the vote:

See how AP calls winners: