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US election 2020: When will we get a result for the US election?

A mail carrier of the United States Postal Service delivers mail in Washington, DC, USA, 18 August 2020Symbol copyright

Two decades have handed since American citizens aroused from sleep on an autumn morning after Election Day and didn’t know who would subsequent lead the rustic.

It took 36 extra days to unravel the competition between Al Gore and George W Bush as the rustic held its breath.

That prospect may just occur once more in 2020.


Neatly, the pandemic has many of us scared of vote casting in user as a result of in america that incessantly manner looking ahead to hours in a queue.

So hundreds of thousands extra will vote by means of put up and there are fears it will take days or even weeks to depend all of them, leaving the result on a knife-edge.

What in most cases occurs on a typical election evening?

Other states forestall vote casting at other occasions.

The primary polls to near are at the East Coast, at about 1900 ET (nighttime GMT), and after that you just get started getting a operating general as votes in the ones states are counted.

Presidents don’t seem to be picked by means of successful a countrywide vote. No, as a substitute it is a sequence of state-wide races with the winner in every state taking a undeniable quantity of what is referred to as electoral faculty votes.

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A state is “referred to as” for a candidate when a media outlet believes one candidate has an insurmountable lead. This can be a projection now not a last consequence.

In a similar fashion, when the entire election is “referred to as” for a candidate, it’s not the authentic consequence as a result of there are nonetheless a lot of votes to depend.

An election is in most cases referred to as at the evening. And what follows is a choreographed reaction together with a concession speech from the dropping candidate. In all probability now not this 12 months – extra on that later.

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Media captionThe president of the US isn’t selected at once by means of electorate, however by means of what is referred to as the electoral faculty

In 2016 the election was once referred to as for Donald Trump at about 0230 EST (0730 GMT) after successful Wisconsin put him over the 270 threshold of electoral faculty votes.

Within the days and weeks that adopted, increasingly Democratic votes have been counted which intended Hillary Clinton stretched her lead in the preferred votes however the electoral faculty was once already misplaced.

An unparalleled quantity of postal ballots

Status in a queue at a polling station on Election Day is the commonest method American electorate forged ballots, however lately, vote casting by means of mail has risen in reputation.

While it was once in the past now not unusual for states to limit vote casting by means of put up to big cases – corresponding to being a soldier who was once serving in another country – now the follow is extensively accredited in a majority of states, whether or not one is an “absentee voter” or for every other reason why.

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has precipitated an unparalleled choice of requests from electorate to forged ballots by means of put up.

Some 80 million mail-in ballots are predicted to be forged – double the quantity in 2016 and greater than every other election 12 months.

The fear, then, is whether or not that quantity of poll deliveries will prolong the whole lot.

That worry is not only because of the massive quantity of ballots to depend.

It’s also because of america Postal Provider present process cutbacks at a time when it has a large duty.

First it has to put up poll papers out to other people, after which it has to ship them again once more to election government, all prior to points in time set by means of the states.

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How are postal votes counted?

States have huge latitude over figuring out election laws, together with surroundings points in time for a postal vote to qualify.

Pennsylvania will most effective come with the ones won by means of 20:00 native time on Election Day, whilst California accepts votes so long as they’re postmarked by means of the date, even supposing they come weeks later. That is why counting within the large West Coast state all the time takes a very long time.

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There were issues over whether or not the postal carrier has the capability to deal with the electoral mail

Postal poll counting takes longer as a result of every vote should have a signature this is matched with a separate autograph on a registration card.

With double the choice of postal ballots anticipated, that procedure on my own will upload time to the depend.

Some states like Florida will start processing the postal votes prior to Election Day, like verifying signatures, and get started in fact counting them at the morning of the election.

However maximum states and Washington DC don’t get started counting them till the entire in-person vote casting is over and polls have closed.

The Nationwide Convention of State Legislatures has a complete record of when every state counts postal votes.

What about in-person vote casting? Will that take longer?

The 2020 number one elections additionally gave electorate a preview of issues that might mar in-person vote casting on Election Day. States from New York to Alaska struggled with operating this conventional and nonetheless maximum commonplace approach of casting ballots.

This 12 months, perennial problems like misguided vote casting machines have been compounded by means of employee shortages and longer than standard queues because of social distancing issues.

Those resulted in adjustments that protracted the method.

Kentucky sharply minimize the choice of polling stations and needed to order polls to stick open longer, so other people in lower-income spaces needed to commute a lot additional to forged a vote.

That was once vastly debatable, sparking accusations that the pandemic was once getting used with the intention to suppress minority votes.

Alaska pressured all electorate in some spaces to make use of postal ballots as a result of no polling station may well be opened and Georgia was once confronted with proceedings over malfunctioning polling machines.

How one key state is getting ready for the avalanche of postal votes

By way of Laura Trevelyan, North Carolina

New Hanover County in Wilmington is the quintessential swing district in a battleground state. And the election is beneath method right here.

Scenic and prosperous, it hasn’t voted for a Democratic President since Jimmy Carter. Barack Obama got here shut in 2008, simply dropping the county regardless that he gained the state – and Donald Trump gained narrowly in 2016, sporting the state too.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, other people in North Carolina were ready to request mail-in ballots for months and will accomplish that till nine October. They started receiving them firstly of September.

The keenness has been off the charts – 813,014 electorate had asked mail in ballots by means of 14 September, out of 7 million registered electorate within the state.

And right here in picture-perfect New Hanover County, the place 24.4K have asked mail in ballots, Democrats have the threshold, with 12.4K requests, whilst 7.8K unaffiliated or impartial electorate are opting to vote by means of mail, in comparison to simply three.9K Republicans.

We can catch up come in-person vote casting, Chase Horton of the New Hanover County Republican Birthday celebration tells me. Anything else Donald Trump is in opposition to, like mail in vote casting, Democrats are for, says Richard Poole, the birthday party chairman within the county.

Kathryn Hedgepeth, of the non-partisan League of Girls Electorate which represents 3 counties, is overjoyed to look such a lot enthusiasm for vote casting. She has her absentee poll already – however she desires to observe the primary presidential debate prior to deciding tips on how to vote.

Applicants have an incentive to prolong concession

With passions operating so top on all sides, Donald Trump and Joe Biden may well be much more made up our minds than standard presidential contenders to not admit defeat.

For Mr Biden, the contours of this 12 months’s vote casting trend level to a strategic reason why for him to prolong conceding if he seems in the back of within the depend on election evening.

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Inc by the use of Getty Photographs

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The pandemic may imply longer waits for in-person vote casting

Prior to now vote casting by means of mail was once extra standard amongst older other people, and it in most cases skewed Republican. However lately, the fashion has shifted towards operating individuals who can not take time clear of paintings to show up on the polls, and so they skew Democratic.

Consequently, there’s reason why to imagine that postal votes counted later will favour Mr Biden. So it is advisable have President Trump forward at the evening however his opponent narrowing the distance within the days that practice.

For months, the president has claimed that illicit forces are threatening to “thieve” the election from him – both by means of the best way to under-count his reinforce or over-count ballots for Mr Biden. No small a part of his political message has been about rejecting “coastal elites” who don’t constitute the American heartlands and rural West.

Be expecting such messages to enlarge if he’s narrowly forward at the evening of the election, with extra drama to practice.

What about ballot watchers?

Some other issue that can lengthen occasions is the additional scrutiny being paid to vote casting this 12 months.

The veracity of a poll will also be matter to demanding situations by means of volunteer “ballot watchers” who glance over the shoulders of officers verifying the legitimacy of a poll.

Ballots which might be challenged by means of a ballot watcher are set aside to be checked once more prior to being counted or rejected.

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States like Massachusetts have drop containers for early postal vote casting

Ballot watchers are a sound a part of the democratic procedure, however professionals warn that campaigns may just manipulate their serve as to prolong counts.

The Trump marketing campaign is recruiting “Trump ballot watchers”, whom critics worry will contest ballots to get them thrown out and prolong the depend.

Will there be prison demanding situations too?

All this variation and confusion imply that prison disputes are all however inevitable.

Greater than 190 election proceedings have already been filed in 2020, contesting the whole lot from id necessities for postal vote casting to the legality of Covid-related adjustments to number one vote casting dates.

It’s somebody’s wager what prison demanding situations may just emerge that prolong vote casting previously or reporting a definitive consequence afterwards.

However 2020 is shaping as much as be essentially the most litigious election in US historical past, in keeping with Richard Hasen, a prison pupil on the College of California Irvine.

Within the 2000 election, Mr Gore first of all conceded after which retracted his concession after believing that his margin of loss in Florida must cause a recount.

It took a Splendid Court docket choice over the legality of a recount to settle the competition.

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