The call came at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday, just over an hour after polls closed in Wisconsin: Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived the recall election and defeated Democrat Tom Barrett.

And that's when the questions started coming in: How can an election be called before all the votes are counted? And how can an organization call a race if people are still waiting to vote?

AP makes its calls based on a variety of factors, and never calls a race before poll close, says David Pace, a news editor in Washington who coordinates AP election calls.

If people were still voting when the call was made, they had to have been in line by the time polls closed, he said. No one new is allowed to get in line once polls close.

The AP calls races based on early vote returns provided by state and county elections offices, exit polls that conducted with voters and vote results from a random sample of precincts around the state. It's a complicated process that also compares the voting history of counties to make sure results are in line with past trends.

Our call in the Wisconsin governor's recall election was made with 37 percent of precincts reporting. Tabulations of early returns showed Walker ahead 59 percent to Barrett's 40 percent.

Although less than half of the state's precincts were reporting, only a handful of counties hadn't reported some of their results. So voters all across the state were represented in the calculations.

Also, most of the big counties had reported some of their votes. Milwaukee County, the state's largest and home to Barrett, had reported the fewest votes of the big counties. But the AP could still make the call because of the size of Walker's lead, Pace said.

"We knew Milwaukee was going to come in much more heavily for Barrett, but with such a big lead built-up statewide for Walker, there weren't enough votes for Barrett to overcome it," he said.

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    A Tom Barrett supporter stands with a sign along main street June 5, 2012 in Hudson, Wisconsin.The recall election to unseat Governor Scott Walker, marks just the third time in US history that a state governor has been challenged midterm. Wisconsin is a key swing state in the November presidential election. It is seen as leaning toward Obama, but Tuesday's vote could show an inclination to flip toward Republican challenger Mitt Romney.AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

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    LAKE MILLS, WI - JUNE 5: Voters cast their ballot in a recall election June 5, 2012 at the Lake Mills Town Hall in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

  • Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls In Recall Election For Governorship

    LAKE MILLS, WI - JUNE 5: Supporters of Tom Barrett for governor and Lori Compas for state Senator, both running in a recall election, stand along a roadway June 5, 2012 in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

  • Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls In Recall Election For Governorship

    DELAVAN, WI - JUNE 05: Eli Barr watches as his great grandmother Joanne Goff cast a ballot in the Wisconsin recall election June 5, 2012 in Delavan, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls In Recall Election For Governorship

    MADISON, WISCONSIN - JUNE 5: A chalk drawn sign on a road in support for the recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on election day June 5, 2012 in Madison, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

  • Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls In Recall Election For Governorship

    MADISON, WI - JUNE 5: Supporters of the recall election for Governor Scott Walker sing outside of the Wisconsin State Capitol June 5, 2012 in Madison, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

  • Gov. Walker Votes In Wisconsin Recall Election

    WAUWATOSA, WI - JUNE 5: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks with voters outside Jefferson School during the vote in the gubernatorial recall election June 5, 2012 in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Voters were lined up before the polls opened at 7:00 AM to decide on the recall race between the Republican Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)

  • Gov. Walker Votes In Wisconsin Recall Election

    WAUWATOSA, WI - JUNE 5: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his wife Tanette Walker wait in line to cast their ballots outside Jefferson Schooln to vote in the gubernatorial recall election June 5, 2012 in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Voters were lined up before the polls opened at 7:00 AM to decide on the recall race between the Republican Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)

  • Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls In Recall Election For Governorship

    BELOIT, WI - JUNE 05: A sample ballot for the Wisconsin recall election shows only choices for Governor and Lieutenant Governor June 5, 2012 in Beloit, Wisconsin. Leading contender Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Gov. Walker Votes In Wisconsin Recall Election

    WAUWATOSA, WI - JUNE 5: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker walks past media after he filled out his ballot at Jefferson School to vote in the gubernatorial recall election June 5, 2012 in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Voters were lined up before the polls opened at 7:00 AM to decide on the recall race between the Republican Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)

  • Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls In Recall Election For Governorship

    BRADFORD TOWNSHIP, WI - JUNE 05: Voters cast their ballots for the Wisconsin recall election at the Bradford Town Hall June 5, 2012 in Bradford Township, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls In Recall Election For Governorship

    MADISON, WISCONSIN - JUNE 5: Voters cast their ballots in a recall election for the governor and lieutenant governor at the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center June 5, 2012 in Madison, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images)

  • Wisconsin Voters Head To The Polls In Recall Election For Governorship

    CLINTON, WI - JUNE 05: Voters cast ballots in the Wisconsin recall election June 5, 2012 in Clinton, Wisconsin. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in the recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Gov. Walker Votes In Wisconsin Recall Election

    WAUWATOSA, WI - JUNE 5: Voters wait in line to cast their ballots outside Jefferson School to vote in the gubernatorial recall election June 5, 2012 in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Voters were lined up before the polls opened at 7:00 AM to decide on the recall race between the Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)

  • Bill Clinton Joins Tom Barrett For ''Get Out The Vote'' Rally In Milwaukee

    MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 01: Supporters of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett attewnd a Get Out The Vote Rally for Barrett who is trying to unseat Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a recall election on June 1, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state. The election is scheduled for June 5. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Voters cast their ballots June 5, 2012 a

    Voters cast their ballots June 5, 2012 at City Hall in Hudson, Wisconsin,for current Governor Scott Walker or challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The recall election marks just the third time in US history that a state governor has been challenged midterm. Wisconsin is a key swing state in the November presidential election. It is seen as leaning toward Obama, but Tuesday's vote could show an inclination to flip toward Republican challenger Mitt Romney.AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Voters enter the polling station as it o

    Voters enter the polling station as it opens June 5, 2012 at City Hall in Hudson, Wisconsin, to cast their ballot for current Governor Scott Walker or challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The recall election marks just the third time in US history that a state governor has been challenged midterm. Wisconsin is a key swing state in the November presidential election. It is seen as leaning toward Obama, but Tuesday's vote could show an inclination to flip toward Republican challenger Mitt Romney.AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A little girl watches her mother vote Ju

    A little girl watches her mother vote June 5, 2012 at City Hall in Hudson, Wisconsin, for current Governor Scott Walker or challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The recall election marks just the third time in US history that a state governor has been challenged midterm. Wisconsin is a key swing state in the November presidential election. It is seen as leaning toward Obama, but Tuesday's vote could show an inclination to flip toward Republican challenger Mitt Romney.AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Voters take to the polls June 5, 2012 at

    Voters take to the polls June 5, 2012 at City Hall in Hudson, Wisconsin to cast their ballots for curent Governor Scott Walker and challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The recall election marks just the third time in US history that a state governor has been challenged midterm. Wisconsin is a key swing state in the November presidential election. It is seen as leaning toward Obama, but Tuesday's vote could show an inclination to flip toward Republican challenger Mitt Romney.AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Inge Bleier registers her ballot on June

    Inge Bleier registers her ballot on June 5, 2012 at the town hall in the town of Hudson, Wisconsin, after voting for current Governor Scott Walker or challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. The recall election marks just the third time in US history that a state governor has been challenged midterm. Wisconsin is a key swing state in the November presidential election. It is seen as leaning toward Obama, but Tuesday's vote could show an inclination to flip toward Republican challenger Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages)