News, voting and more from California, Florida and Texas

With the polls starting to close, here are some terms to know as election night continues.

A person leaves a polling place at Brown University hours before polls close in Providence, Rhode Island, on Tuesday. (David Goldman/AFP)

Whether your interest in politics is the strongest or you only turn out every November to vote, it’s always a good idea to brush up on some of the terms you hear during election season and remember who’s running for election and how CNN evaluates election contests.

Here are answers to some basic questions that many people ask.

What is a ‘changed seat’ or ‘meeted seat’?

An alternate or select seat is a seat in the House of Representatives or the Senate that the electors of one party take and entrust to the other. Because of redistricting, nine seats in the House of Representatives, including seven new seats in which there are no incumbents, and two in which the incumbents are facing each other, cannot be classified as pick seats by either party.

What is an “incumbent” or “incumbent”?

An “incumbent” or incumbent is a legislator or elected official who is running for re-election.

What are special elections?

When a Senator retires, dies, or leaves office before his or her term expires, the state governor typically appoints a replacement to fill the seat. After that, voters usually have a chance to make their views known, usually in the next federal election. This is how Democratic Senators Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia were first elected in 2020 in a special election and why in 2022 they are both running for a full six-year terms.

This year, there are special elections for the Senate in Oklahoma, where Republican Senator James Inhofe will resign next year, and in California, where Democratic Senator Alex Padilla, who has been appointed to replace Vice President Kamala Harris, is nominated both to cover the remainder of the election. Harris’s term (which ends in January) to win next time.

Members of the House of Representatives cannot be appointed, so when a seat in the House of Representatives becomes vacant, a special election must be held to fill it. This year, there is a special election in Indiana to fill the final two months of Representative Jackie Walorsky’s term. Walorski died in August.

What is voting in order?

Many cities and states are experimenting with ways to give voters more access to the political process and the potential for political depolarization. Voting in by choice is a system implemented in most elections in Maine and Alaska, in which voters rank their options in order of preference rather than choosing a single candidate. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the first-place vote, the last candidate is dropped and the second-choice electors who chose that candidate receive these votes.

This process is repeated until the winner appears.

What does “estimate rating” mean?

Based on data such as turnout in previous elections, ballot papers cast or requested, and pre-election polls, organizations can project the number of votes expected in a given election. The vote estimate can underestimate or overestimate the actual vote, and the percentage of information can go up or down throughout election night depending on how those estimates are adjusted as analysts evaluate the data in real time. When these estimates are standardized, they can be useful in predicting how many votes are left to be counted.

What does “bottom of the ballot paper” mean?

The top of the ballot is the vote that the largest number of people in the state will see on their ballot.
In a presidential year, these candidates are at the head of the ballot. Most candidates for local elections come at the bottom of the ballot. A candidate for the House of Representatives, for example, is less than a presidential candidate. A candidate for mayor is less than a candidate for the House of Representatives.

How can CNN deliver a voteless election?

This is a mission that CNN takes very seriously. Based on past election results, opinion polls, recent opinion polls, early voter turnout, and other factors, it is sometimes possible to see that a particular candidate will win an election. If there is any chance of change, CNN will refrain from predicting an outcome.

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