In the old days (meaning before this election), results from exit polls weren't released by the news groups until all polls had closed. But thanks to a joint initiative via Slate, Vice News, and a company called Votecastr, how exit polls are handled this time around will be a "dramatic departure," Politico reports. This "unprecedented Election Day experiment," as Slate puts it, will offer real-time projections of who's ahead in the polls at any given time in seven battleground states. "We're hoping to fill in the 24-hour void between the last pre-election poll analysis and the counting of the votes with data that can begin to answer the heretofore unanswerable question: Who's actually voting?" Sasha Issenberg of Votecastr tells Politico. The effort will cover Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, as well as a modified look at Colorado's results.
But Votecastr is courting controversy, as experts fret that word of who's pulling ahead minute by minute could affect voter turnout. "I'm profoundly uncomfortable with characterizing election results during Election Day," a member of the ABC News "decision desk" told the New York Times in September, when the project was announced. But Slate notes that feared alteration of voter turnout is an "unproven theory," and Issenberg says voters keeping an eye on Votecastr—manned by both Democratic and GOP data experts—are already bombarded by pre-Election Day polls and stats. "Why should information on Election Day itself be held to a different standard than on the day before it?" he tells Politico. Read Slate's in-depth explainer.