After months of high-voltage campaigning in US presidential elections, the much-awaited election day is here. Americans will give their final verdict today, either giving incumbent President Donald Trump another four years or bestowing reins to Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden.
Taking place in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, the elections are unlike the previous polls in the US. The polls are being considered as the verdict on Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 2.3 lakh people in America.
In other US elections, candidates are elected directly by popular vote. But the president and vice president are not elected directly by citizens. Instead, they’re chosen by “electors” through a process called the Electoral College.
The process of using electors comes from the Constitution. It was a compromise between a popular vote by citizens and a vote in Congress. To win the presidency, either Trump or Biden must acquire over 50 percent of the electoral college vote, which are 538 in total. Therefore, each candidate must get a minimum of 270 electoral votes to clinch the presidency.
While the timings for opening and closing of polling stations vary in different states and cities, most polls would begin around 6 am (4:30 pm IST) on November 3.
According to New York Times, the closing times of polling stations in Kentucky and Indiana would be 6 pm (4:30 am IST), the polls in Florida will close at 7 pm (5:30 am IST), Pennsylvania and Michigan will close their polls at 8 pm (6:30 am IST), and finally, the polls in Wisconsin and Arizona will be closed at 9 pm (7:30 am IST).
Counting of votes
Counting of votes begins once polls close in the USA. Some states plan to report results on the election night (November 3), but others expect their counting process could take longer, depending on when they begin counting mail-in ballots.
The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress. Once the popular votes are in and counted, it is for the "electors" of the states to vote for the President of the United States of America.
Popular vote vs electoral vote
Joe Biden is currently leading Donald Trump in the national polls as the US approaches its 2020 presidential election. If elected, he would be the oldest president in US history at his inauguration, at age 78. Trump, who is currently 74, would also be the oldest president ever if he wins a second term.
But leading in polls does not guarantee, the victory. Hillary Clinton also had a clear lead over Trump in the polls for almost the entire 2016 campaign. She ended up losing in the electoral college.
Each of the 50 states in the USA is entitled to as many electoral votes as the sum of its representation in the US House and Senate.
For example, Ohio: 16 House Representative and 2 Senators = 18 electoral votes
(With inputs from agencies)