With an emphasis on transparency and accuracy, AP tabulates the vote for some 7,000 races nationwide, calling races and delivering in-depth coverage.

Coverage of U.S. elections is one of the AP’s most crucial missions, carried out in a sprawling but hyper-meticulous operation that stretches company-wide and brings order and clarity to the nation’s patchwork voting system. It’s a public service that predates the Civil War, going back to the 1848 contest when the AP declared Zachary Taylor president. In 2020, in an election cycle upended by a steady stream of disinformation and a global pandemic, the AP built on 172 years of election experience and delivered stories, photos, videos and graphics in innovative ways that didn’t just tell the story of who won, but why as well.

In each state and in Washington, D.C., race callers and news staffers worked in tandem to determine the winners of not only the presidential contest, but governorships, Congressional seats, ballot initiatives and more. In Pennsylvania, the state that tipped the contest in Joe Biden’s favor, the call was made Saturday after days of painstaking work to determine the scope of outstanding votes.

The complexity of the vote, happening amid a pandemic and white-hot partisan feuding, was brought together by senior writers and editors in compelling main stories and deeply knowledgeable analyses.

Once vote counts started coming in, our customers quickly gravitated to a new feature called Explainer that offered contextual looks at the reasons behind race calls for each state. Amid unfounded allegations of fraud, these brought greater transparency to AP’s race-calling decisions and the electoral process when it has never mattered more.

Video customers quickly came to rely on AP’s stable of live video cameras positioned in key places around the country, resulting in a whopping six days of uninterrupted live footage.

Web users were drawn to an ambitious interactive that distilled AP’s massive vote count data into an easily readable, and highly clickable, format.


Meanwhile, AP’s photojournalists did what they do best, rapidly delivering compelling images from voting centers, protests and the jubilant image of Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris that graced the cover of Time magazine.

AP News saw 12 million pageviews on Election Day, and well over 10 million on Saturday, the day AP called the election. (A typical day sees 2 million to 4 million.) Ten political stories topped 1 million pageviews each, led by the story announcing Biden’s victory, which had nearly 2.6 million.

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With the Florida results in hand, Deputy Managing Editor David Scott, left, calls that race in favor of President Donald Trump on election night at the Washington bureau of the AP, early Nov. 4, 2020. At right, sports writer and editor Ben Nuckols enters race calls into AP’s system.

AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais

These are just some of the highlights of AP’s election coverage. Success on a story this massive can happen only with months, even years, of diligent planning, strong execution on little-to-no sleep and the dedication of hundreds of AP journalists — too many to call out by name. 

None of this would have been possible without countless colleagues outside the News department — conspicuously the Elections vote tabulation team, as well as staffers in technology, products and revenue to name just a few — who work year-round enabling AP to fulfill this essential role.

For coverage that distinguished the AP with its clarity, transparency, breadth and accuracy in a momentous election year, the collective work of AP’s staff earns this week’s Best of the Week honors.

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