The US Election Dates, Times, and Results; The 2020 US election is today. After a grueling campaign, voters will enter booths across America in the next few hours and cast their ballots.
Who are the Presidential candidates
The presidential candidates for the 2020 US Election – Donald Trump for the Republican party and Joe Biden for Democratic party, as both parties engage in polls today for the United States to choose their next president
But the coronavirus pandemic has thrown many aspects of the race into uncertainty.
The virus has already dramatically affected the running of the election, including the chaos caused by Donald Trump being diagnosed with Covid-19.
It is also unclear what election day itself will look like, given the risk of catching the virus by voting in person.
A record number of people have already cast their ballots by post. Election experts suggest this could mean the result may not be declared on election night but may take several days – or even weeks – to emerge.
With the coronavirus pandemic expected to impact public life well into next year, the 2020 election is likely to go down in history as one of the most unconventional US presidential races ever held.
Despite the uncertainty, there are some aspects of the election process that are enshrined in the US constitution.
Here is everything we know about how the race will play out.
What date is the 2020 US election?
The election will be held on Tuesday, November 3.
Donald Trump had floated delaying it, in a tweet which suggested the rule changes making it easier for voters to use postal ballots in many states could lead to a “rigged election”.
Mr. Trump has argued that, despite using it himself in the past, mail-in voting is more open to fraud. Most election experts have questioned whether it is possible for postal voting to lead to widespread fraud, as Mr. Trump claims, but have pointed out that an anticipated rise in postal voting could cause problems.
The election date is not written into the US Constitution, so a delay is technically possible, but the Constitution does outline a date for the newly elected president’s inauguration in January.
However, the power to change the election date lies with the US Congress, and the Democrats hold the majority in one chamber, the House of Representatives, which made it extremely unlikely that a delay would have been approved.
What happens on Election Day?
On November 3, voters who have not sent a mail-in ballot will head to the polls. The colossal task of counting votes begins later that day.
Millions of Americans will vote on Election Day.
Some news networks and pollsters will publish projected results late on November 3, though these results are provisional while mail-in ballots are counted.
What time do voting polls open and close?
The opening and closing times for polling stations vary from state to state, in some cases by city or county.
Some states allow people waiting in the queue when the polling station closes to cast their vote – some do not.
Most polls open at 6am and the latest they stay open is until 9pm (in New York and North Dakota).
In Vermont, early-risers can cast their vote at 5am.
All polling stations will close by 9pm ET on November 3 (2am UK time on November 4).
Election results timetable
Mail-in ballots can be received late and will still be counted in many states.
Most mail-in ballots must be received within a couple of days of November 3, with a few exceptions. Some key states allow ballots to be sent in late, including Pennsylvania and North Carolina (by November 6), Minnesota and Nevada (by November 10), and Ohio (by November 13).
Each state begins to certify its results from November 10, though this too can be delayed if there is a recount. Every state except California must complete the certification by December 8. All disputes – including challenges and recounts – must be resolved by this date.
Electors formally cast their votes on December 14 and send them to Washington.
This means that the clear result of the election – which has been drastically impacted by postal ballots because of coronavirus – might not be known until some time after Election Day.
How many electoral votes are needed to win?
To win the presidency, Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden must get more than 50 percent of the electoral college vote. There are 538 possible electoral votes, which means 270 are required to win.
When will the winner take the office?
The date on which a new president is sworn in as enshrined in the US constitution. Either Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.
How has coronavirus affected the election campaign cycle?
The Democratic and Republican political conventions, a staple of presidential election years, were radically different from the usual pageantry.
Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, decided against traveling to Wisconsin to accept the Democratic presidential nomination because of coronavirus concerns. Instead, Mr. Biden accepted the nomination and delivered a national address from his home state of Delaware. Ms. Harris also formally accepted the vice-presidential nomination from a hotel ballroom in Wilmington, Delaware.
The Republican convention was also a pared-down affair. Much of the convention, including Mr. Trump’s speech, was virtual and included live speeches from different locations. The president delivered his own Republican nomination acceptance speech from the White House.
Who can become president?
The President of the United States can be a man or a woman of any race or any religion, but they must:
- be at least 35 years old
- have been born in the US
- have lived in the US for at least 14 years
The rules also state that one person can be in the job for a maximum of two terms. (The only exception to this was Franklin D Roosevelt, who was elected for a special third term at the height of World War Two.)
How does US election voting work?
The presidential election vote is a simple choice between candidates from the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Occasionally a third party candidate will enter the race, like Kanye West this year, but it is quite rare for them to gain traction or make a significant impact.
The two main political parties hold primaries and caucuses across the country during an election year to select who they want to represent them on the ballot. Read more about that process here.
The Democratic and Republican candidates are then formally selected and announced during their parties’ summer conventions.
The US election system itself is far from straightforward. That is because when America’s founding fathers created the system in 1787, there was no way a presidential candidate could mount a national campaign – and there was little in the way of national identity.
The founding fathers chose not to elect US presidents by direct popular vote over fears that larger and more populous states could have an outsized role in deciding the winner.
The system of electors, based loosely on the Roman Catholic College of Cardinals selecting the Pope, was chosen with the theory that the most knowledgeable and informed individuals from each state would select a president on merit, disregarding state loyalties.
So when Americans cast their vote on November 3, they technically vote for “electors”, not the candidates themselves. The electors are state officials or senior party figures, but they are not usually named on the ballot.
Each elector casts one vote following the general election for one of the two candidates. The newly elected president and vice-president will then be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.