The top House Republican has called on mainstream media outlets to not call the 2020 race next week before all the polling stations are closed.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sent a letter to CBS News, CNN, NBC, ABC, and Fox News this week.
“It is estimated that voter turnout for the election on Nov. 3, 2020, will be the highest on record. It is clear that Americans are taking their civic responsibility seriously. The media also has recognized its responsibility by educating voters on the date and process of the election. That responsibility extends through Election Day in its entirety,” he said in his letter.
McCarthy noted that the media plays an important role in disseminating information about elections to the public.
“Americans will be watching their television and monitoring their social media feeds anxiously awaiting the results of the election. And understandably, the competition within the media to be the first to deliver those results is intense. But media bragging rights should not supersede Americans’ voices,” he said. “Any media organization that declares a winner of the presidential election before polling centers have closed will unquestionably disenfranchise Americans who have not yet voted.”
His comment might be in reference to the hotly contested 2000 election between former Vice President Al Gore and then-candidate George W. Bush. NBC News projected that Gore, a Democrat, won Florida due to exit polling before other media chimed in. Networks then started calling the whole race for Gore.
But a recount in Florida took several weeks, resulting in chaos and rampant speculation. Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bush, a Republican, in December 2000.
The House minority leader’s letter comes during a climate of speculation that the Nov. 3 election between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden might take weeks to complete due to the proliferation of mail-in ballots. Some Democratic governors have warned that the election might not be called on Election Day, as is the custom.
“Patience must take precedence over prognostication. Therefore, I am requesting that every network and media organization refrain from declaring a winner until every polling center has closed. Election Day is a celebration for our representative democracy, we must ensure that every American is encouraged to participate,” McCarthy said.
Speaking to reporters this week, Trump said he wants the election to be called by the end of Nov. 3.
“It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on Nov. 3 instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate and I don’t believe that that’s by our laws,” he said.