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Voting is currently underway in the US, as hundreds of millions of people gather to conclude a fraught year of American politics. Donald Trump is vying for a second term, but a vast chasm in the prospective vote has left him trailing Joe Biden and on course for a landslide defeat. But the polls provide a prospective measure, with counted ballots a more vital predictor of today’s outcome.
When does vote counting start in the US election?
Most polls opened in the US at roughly 8am today (1pm GMT), and remain so for 12 hours until around 8pm (1am GMT).
Timings could vary by state, however, as they set their own rules when it comes to voting.
As such, each state will count votes at different times, so results won’t all come in at once.
Electors may have a long process ahead of them this year, due to the several different methods people can use.
The coronavirus pandemic introduced new logistical issues, so officials expanded mail-in and absentee voting.
Some states have already started counting their mailed-in ballots and will tabulate the remaining in-person votes today.
Vote counting in the US is a patchwork process which sees some state winners declared before others.
As such, officials “call” states for a presidential candidate when they have fully tallied the total.
In 2020, arriving at a final tally of votes for the country could take days, but a winner could emerge relatively quickly as they electors call states.
Several “battleground” states which have a high value in the Electoral College could declare their results first.
For example, officials started tabulating votes weeks before Election Day in Florida, and some Texas counties started counting on October 30.
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The candidate who takes Florida gains an immediate upper-hand in the race and results for the state should come from 7pm (12am GMT).
Results from North Carolina should come roughly half an hour later, followed by Texas and Michigan at 8pm ET (1am GMT).
Currently, polls have Mr Biden and Mr Trump neck-and-neck in Texas, one of the most valuable states.
But if the former VP manages to claim both Texas and Florida, the race is over for Mr Trump.
Should he fail to secure either, the focus shifts to Pennsylvania, where polls close at 8pm as well.
The jewel in the Electoral College crown for Mr Biden is Pennsylvania, as, without it, he becomes an underdog.
The state is worth a total of 20 votes in the Electoral College and would give him an edge assuming Republicans can keep historically red Texas and Florida.
But it could take some time for Pennsylvania to declare a winner, as officials have warned a tidal wave of mail-in ballots could take days to count.
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