Understanding BallotReady's November Timeline

BallotReady's November timeline covering all things candidate research, polling locations, and vote by mail-related is available here. 

For more information on how we gather and maintain standardized, non-partisan data, read more here.

November Timeline Deep Dive

The November timeline includes elections data to support reasonable conclusions about when both elections data and dependent BallotReady data can be made available. 

The biggest driver of BallotReady’s timeline is filing deadlines. 

Filing Deadlines and Election Results

Filing deadlines

Filing deadlines are the last days on which a candidate can file to be on the ballot for an election, and until the filing deadline is past, we cannot be sure that we have all the candidates for an election. States may also have different deadlines for federal, state, county, and local positions, and many states have a different deadline for presidential candidates than other federal candidates. This is why BallotReady pushes candidates live at different times -- even ones within the same state. Secretaries of state and county clerks don’t typically release certified candidate lists around two weeks after a filing deadline, and so we begin our candidate list research around that time. 2020, however, is unusual because many states have postponed filing deadlines due to the coronavirus pandemic, so we can expect that the delivery of candidate lists may be delayed. 

Primary election results

Establishing and marking primary winners for each election in the database is an important part of the research process. We use this information to support quality assurance during our candidate list gathering efforts to ensure accuracy of candidacy details (for example, the right candidate name matches the right positions, election, party affiliation, etc.). Due to COVID-19, almost every state is seeing an increased amount of people voting absentee, and in particular voting by mail. This causes more elections to be too close to call on election night, which occurs when the number of uncounted absentee ballots is greater than the margin between the two leading candidates. States can take weeks to count all of their absentee ballots, which is the norm in universal vote by mail states like Utah and Colorado, and we are observing a current trend of states experiencing delayed election results.

Candidate Research

Uncertified candidates 

We also use our elections results project to create general candidacies for primary winners (with an uncertified status). API customers will have the ability to see large numbers of November candidates with research but it will not be an exhaustive list until we have rechecked candidate materials and certified candidates. We expect small amounts of movement in the candidate lists in as even primary winner candidates decide to withdraw from a race. 

Timeline for research 

We are pushing candidates and measures live by tier in preparation for November

    • Tier 1: Federal and gubernatorial candidates entered with bios, issues. and endorsements from set list (certified status). No ballot measures included.
    • Tier 2: State level candidates with bios, issues. endorsements from set list (with certified statues). Certified ballot measures with explainer text also included. No measures with pending litigation will be added to the site.
    • Tier 3/Tier 4: County and local candidates with bios, issues, endorsements from set list covering 90% of the population as of the 2010 census. County ballot measure text. City + explainer text where cities are > 100K. Certified measures only.
    • Remainder Candidates: In our experience, counties sometimes miss statutory deadlines to certify candidate lists (especially when there are ongoing petitions with respect to candidate ballot eligibility). In other cases, they do not make these lists readily accessible. Securing these lists require multiple contact attempts and FOIA submissions. Candidates in counties that meet this criteria will be added on a rolling basis 

Voting Information

Early voting

Early voting is defined as any voting where a registered voter can go to a location before Election Day and receive, vote, and cast their ballot. We categorize early voting using two main types: in-person locations and drop-off locations.  BallotReady aims to display all in person early voting locations that do not require specific excuses. We do not cover early voting options conditional on specific excuses, oftentimes mandated by the state. We aim to have uploaded all EV polling locations and drop boxes within 2 business days of the EV start date. Sometimes, states do not release their EV in person and drop off locations within our timeline, so we will upload polling locations as information rolls in.

Polling places timeline

Our polling places timeline is still forthcoming. 

Vote by mail timeline 

Our vote by mail timeline is available in our site tracker.

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