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The US election takes place this year at a time of significant unrest for the country. Americans will get the chance to cast judgement on Donald Trump, who is currently presiding over hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths and a faltering economy. Joe Biden, his challenger, promises he will unite the country and endeavour to reduce the rampant local infection rate, with the results seemingly all but undecided.
When does America vote?
The US holds federal elections every two years, for the White House, House of Representatives and Senate.
Since 1845, Presidential elections have taken place every four years on the first Tuesday after November 3.
In 2020, this is November 3, but voting will have started much earlier than usual for many people.
Election officials, prompted by COVID-19, have made the election process more accessible this year.
Rather than restrict the vote to in-person ballots on the day only, electors have allowed more people to do so early or via post.
As such, millions of people have already posted their ballots, with millions more early votes so far compared to 2016.
People can still vote on the day if they choose, however, depending on the state.
Local officials set voting times and dates, so anyone unsure as to when they need to cast their ballot should check with their state government.
Most polls will open at 6am on the day, and close by 9pm by the latest, however.
Officials can also supply information such as which polling place they need to attend on the day.
The virus has changed both polling practices and the time results will come in this year, so people may not find out on November 4.
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Vote counting traditionally begins on the day, and in 2016 electors called the election at 2.30am EST (7.30am GMT) the next day.
Postal votes, which could make up a significant portion of the ballot this year, could cause a system pile-up on November 3.
The pile-up, coupled with varying state counting methods, may result in delays to the result.
Some state officials may have already counted some ballots before the day.
Depending on how close the race is, the first picture of the vote should still develop overnight.
States where Democrats or Republicans have a “safe” presence, will know first.
But “battleground” states where the vote is uncertain, the results could take days.
They could see extremely close competition, as in some of these states candidates win by less than one percent.
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