Washington, November 8, 2016: As Americans go to the polls on Tuesday to elect their 45th president, here’s what to watch out for:
All 50 states and Washington D.C. go to the polls across six different time zones on election day. Thirteen of the states are operating with split time zones.
Depending on the state, polling booths will open between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time and close between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. (If a voter is in line when polls close, then he or she gets to vote.)
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But it is not just winning the popular vote that counts. The US’ system is a race to secure 270 out of the 538 votes in the electoral college.
Most of the US will have to wait for polling stations to close (typically between 5.30 a.m Wednesday and 6.30 a.m Indian time) for state projections.
One small town, Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, which is keeping alive a tradition of a midnight vote that began in 1960, has declared its result before the polls even open everywhere else.
Once the polls have closed, there will be a projection for each state based on opinion polls taken throughout the day, which are a good indication of the results – but not always correct.
According to CNN, the solid Republican states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The lean Republican comprise Georgia, Iowa, Maine 2nd Congressional District, Ohio and Utah.
The solid Democratic states comprise California, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota and New Mexico.
The leans Democratics are Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The Battleground or Swing states (a state where the two major political parties have similar levels of support among voters, important to determine the overall result) are Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Nebraska 2nd Congressional District, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
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The results are expected to be known in India by 9.30 a.m. IST on Wednesday morning. That’s when West Coast polls close and history suggests a winner’s declared. It was bang on the hour in 2008, and 15 minutes later in 2012.
Polls begin to close in western states from about 10 p.m. ET — or 8.30 a.m. India time.
Usually by around 11 p.m. ET November 8 on the East Coast it becomes clear that one side has prevailed, although the result could come sooner than that.
All eyes will be on the key battleground state of Virginia, which voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 but was previously solid Republican.
Georgia is another one to watch. The state has voted Republican since 1996, but the party’s margin of victory has eroded in recent elections.
Also expect projections from Indiana, home to Trump running mate Mike Pence, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vermont.
Half an hour later, polls close in two further important states, North Carolina and Ohio, the swing state which has backed the winner at every presidential contest.
By 8 p.m. ET (6.30 a.m. IST), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma will begin their state projections.
Another half hour later (7 a.m. India time) polls will close in Arkansas, which backed former President Bill Clinton at successive elections in the 1990s, but has voted Republican since 2000.
New York, Colorado, Michigan, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming and Nebraska might show their projections by now.
Polls close in the biggest electoral prize on the map, California, which is a Democratic stronghold, as well as Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii — 10.30 p.m. ET or 9 a.m. India time.
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Depending on how the electoral college is stacking up, every media outlet could declare the next president of the US.
The president-elect will not actually become the 45th president of the US until January 20, 2017, which is Inauguration Day. The president-elect will place his or her hand on the bible and take the Oath of Office at noon.
From then, the government is in their hands. So is the White House. Usually, the sitting president and their spouse host the incoming-First Couple for tea before the ceremony.
About six hours later, the new First Family moves in. (IANS)