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Campaign 2004
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By race:
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Election results: Frequently asked questions

What is the source of the election results that Minnesota Public Radio is showing on its Web site?
Minnesota Public Radio's election returns are from two primary sources. Minnesota results are from the Minnesota Secretary of State's office. Results from the other 49 states are from the Associated Press.

How do the AP and Secretary of State gather and distribute the vote-count information?
The Secretary of State (SOS) makes voter returns available to the public as soon as they come in from the precincts. MPR receives the vote counts directly from the SOS computers. Our past experience has shown that the SOS is the fastest source of information about Minnesota's election returns.

The AP offers this FAQ about its vote-counting effort.

Are MPR regional news announcers using the same sources the Web is using?
Yes. (NPR national announcers may be using sources that are different from those we use locally.)

How often is the information updated?
The Minnesota results are updated about every five minutes -- just as often as the information is refreshed by computers at the SOS office. It takes a few minutes longer for our computers to receive the information and then make it available on the Web site. The rate of update from the AP varies by location and race.

Why don't the results match up on all your Web documents?
Our process for reporting on Minnesota results requires that data be moved several times from one location to another and be distributed among different computers. There may be periods of time when one report may vary from another, but these should synch up within a few minutes. If you are looking at the tabular (list) information and at the interactive map display too, you may need to refresh your tabular display to match the automatically updated map display.

When you click on Minnesota in the AP national results, we present you with the Minnesota SOS results, not the AP reports for Minnesota.

For how long will you make this information available?
We plan to permanently archive the final election results for Minnesota. National results displays will be limited by our agreements with AP.

I'm having trouble getting results to show on my computer. Can you help?
Our displays will work best on PCs (running Windows 98, NT and XP), and on Macs (running MacOS 9.0 or greater) using Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, or Safari browsers. All configurations and unlisted systems may display information differently, but should still be readable.

The interactive maps require the Flash plug-in to run. You may need to download a current version of Flash that is compatible with your browser and computer operating system. Normally you will be prompted to download the Flash plug-in if you need it, but in some circumstances, such as corporate systems where computers are administered centrally, you may not see a prompt. Macromedia also provides Flash support on its site.

We are unable to respond to individual requests for support. However, if you're experiencing problems, we do want to know about them so we can make improvements in the future. Please report any issues you have with the display on our election comment form.

Why does a Minnesota county/Congressional district/legislative district show red or blue, even before a winner has been determined?
Our system shows red or blue (or another color) depending on whomever is ahead at the time the last vote count was received. As the votes come in, the colors may shift back and forth until the final numbers are tallied.

Does the information update itself, or do I have to click the refresh button to get the latest results?
If you're viewing Minnesota results using the interactive maps, the information will be updated automatically. If you're looking at the lists of results, you will need to refresh your screen to get updated numbers. New numbers are available about every five minutes. If you're viewing the AP national results, you will need to refresh you screen from time to time to get updated figures.