(The Center Square) – Polls are now closed in much of Indiana and Kentucky, as the long night of counting begins to determine whether Republican President Donald Trump wins a second term or Democratic challenger Joe Biden replaces him.
Polls remain open until 7 p.m. eastern in the portions of these two states that are in the central time zone, and anyone already in line when polls closed in the eastern time zone still can vote. Any preliminary results won’t be announced until then.
Both Indiana and Kentucky and their combined 19 electoral votes are expected to go to Trump. Polls close in seven more states at 7 p.m. eastern, including battlegrounds Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, when the real drama begins.
At 8 p.m. eastern, polls will close in all or parts of more than 20 states.
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If it’s a close race in some key swing states, it’s possible – maybe even likely – that a winner won’t be known for days or longer.
That’s in part because more than 99 million Americans already voted early or by mail before Tuesday’s polls even opened. States have different rules for counting and processing mail-in votes. Some wait until after all polls close in the state. Some states also will accept mail-in ballots for days after Nov. 3.
In 17 states, mail-in votes were being counted before Election Day, according to Ballotpedia. In 16 states, mail-in votes can start being counted on Election Day before polls close. In the remaining 17 states, mail-in votes can’t be counted until after polls close. Some states require election clerks to match the signatures on mail-in votes with signatures already on file, making the process more time-consuming.
In the key swing state of Pennsylvania, for example, some counties don’t expect to start counting mail-in ballots until Wednesday or later. During Pennsylvania’s June primary, roughly half of counties were still counting ballots a full week after Election Day.
And in states where the final, unofficial results are particularly close, both Trump and Biden have attorneys on standby to legally challenge any potential discrepancies. That could drag the presidential outcome out by weeks.
Trump or Biden need to take at least 270 electoral votes to secure the victory. In 2016, Trump won the electoral vote and the presidency despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. By winning the key swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, Trump claimed 304 electoral votes to Clinton’s 227.
By Dan McCaleb | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission