On the phrasing of partial election results

A lot of the phrasing around election results uses a sort of shorthand/metaphor that makes it sound like more votes are being cast as time goes on. “[candidate] is catching up.” “[candidate] is ahead for now, but [other candidate] might pass them.” etc.

So I think it’s useful to explicitly note that at this point, all of the votes have been cast. (Some that were cast by mail have yet to be received, but they’ve been cast.) The reported numbers change over time because counting takes time (and the reported and officially recorded numbers can change later due to recounts, court rulings, etc), but the votes themselves aren’t changing at this point, and nobody is casting new votes now.

This may sound like a phrasing quibble; presumably most people know that the votes aren’t changing. But I think that the shorthand phrasings that we often use can reinforce the false Trumpian idea that if initial reported numbers don’t match later reported numbers, then the election was “stolen.”

Counting takes time. The voting is over, but the counting isn’t.

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