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FOX 17 using new software for real-time look at election night results

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Posted at 8:37 PM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 20:37:04-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Fox 17 has partnered with a West Michigan company to bring you election results and breakdowns of local races using state-of-the-art technology. It will be digital, colorful, and show you races in real-time.

They’re tools you normally see on national networks but we’ve already been testing them out on our air. We’re calling it the FOX 17 real-time map.

As results come in, FOX 17 journalists will be able to see them and share them right from the software.

We’re also able to refer to the previous races like the 2014 fight for the US Senate.

Gary Peters won back by more than 400,000 votes. The last election in 2018, his current opponent John James lost to Debbie Stabenow by more than 275,000 votes.

The software lets us break things down by county to show you results in real time. It’s designed by Kevin Ferrara and his partner at Magis Media.

“It’s kinda like a breaking news scene and you’re going out and you’re seeing the numbers come in,” said Ferrara. “It’s more of a conversation. It’s not just talking to the viewer it’s talking with the viewer and explaining the situation you’re seeing unfold in front of you.”

Roughly two dozen tv markets around the country will use the software Tuesday night. From Los Angeles, California to here in West Michigan, journalists will be able to share live data with viewers as it comes in from the Associated Press.

“It allows local stations to take viewers beyond the numbers. We’re able to graphically illustrate on a heat map where are votes are coming from – which counties are voting red or blue, or which counties are 50-50.”

That gives viewers a deeper look at what’s driving the numbers in our state. The darker the red the more republican votes, and the opposite for those showing up dark blue.

“So what the heat mapping does is… show you how you and your neighbors are voting but it also shows you how that’s feeding up to feed into the whole state and driving our electoral vote for the united states,” said Ferrara.

Watching your votes be tallied in real-time. City and township clerks turn their numbers into their respective counties. Then the AP takes those numbers and plugs them into the system.

“There’s still gonna be points where we’re gonna want to talk about numbers. We don’t just want to take you around and roll you around with fancy maps and stuff, we want to be able to convey to the viewer the story that’s happening,” he said.

Polls of course close at 8pm Election Night.

As a reminder, because races may be too close because of counting all the absentee ballots and some still in the mail, results are not expected to be final Tuesday night.

That’s for local races and especially for president.

We’ll bring you coverage throughout the day on air and our OTT mobile app with live results and reaction to different races at 10 and 11.