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The current live map of electoral college votes on the NYTimes and Google shows that the races are called by the Associated Press. As mentioned by the answers to some recent questions, AP uses an apparently reliable black box model for determining which candidate is going to win the state. Does AP have any official power to call these races or are they only determined after all the ballots have been counted by the FEC? If the results aren't official, isn't it irresponsible to even report them live?

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    The FEC doesn't count ballots, nor does it certify ballot totals. The pieces for doing that and the official responsible for supervising the process and certifying the result are determined by state law. The AP, being a private corporation, certainly has no official power to call these races nor to perform any other government function. – phoog Nov 4 '20 at 2:55
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Does AP have any official power to call these races or are they only determined after all the ballots have been counted by the FEC? If the results aren't official, isn't it irresponsible to even report them live?

No, they're only projections. The official results will be the ones certified by election officials. That will take a lot longer, days or even weeks, which is why the media relies on projections which can be very accurate.

Of course, those making these projections will be careful not to make mistakes. If they make bad calls then they may not be asked to make predictions in the future (and as such they won't be paid for their predictions and it reflects poorly on their reputation).

As for the official results, Ballotpedia explains when and how official results are certified in each state.

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  • For instance, AP called Arizona for Biden around 8am UK time (ten hours ago), but as of right now (6:18pm) other news organisations haven't called it. – Paul Johnson Nov 4 '20 at 18:18

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