Election Day Knowledge: US Election 2020

When do the polls open and close?

It varies from state to state. The earliest they open is 6 am, and the latest the close is 9 pm local time on November 3. India is between 10½ and 13½ hours ahead, depending on where in the US you’re looking. However, early voting has been open since mid-September — and by Monday night India time, over 96 million Americans had already cast their votes, either in person or by returned mail ballots, according to the US Elections Project.

When will the votes be counted?

Unlike India’s Election Commission, there is no federal body in the US that runs the election or tallies the results. Each state runs the election according to its own rules. Although most states allow electronic methods, paper ballots are the norm across the country. Ahead of counting comes a stage called processing, which involves checking signatures, verifying documentation, and perhaps even scanning the ballots. Counting votes is a separate, and later, process.

Each state has its own date for starting in-person or mail-in voting, deadline for receiving the mail-in ballots, processing the ballots, and tabulating votes. To take two examples: In Arizona, mailing of ballots started on October 7, they will be accepted until Election Day, and counting has been on since October 20; in Ohio, processing started on October 6, mail-in ballots can be received up to November 13 but they must be postmarked by November 2, and counting will start on November 3.

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