Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020

These states could decide the US presidential election

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The US presidential election will be decided by about a dozen states that could swing to either President Donald Trump, a Republican, or Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

These states will play a critical role in delivering the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.

Due to a surge in mail voting amid the coronavirus pandemic – as well as the states’ varying rules for when ballots can be counted – the results may not be known on Tuesday’s (Nov 3) election day.

Florida

Electoral votes: 29

Polls close: 7pm EST (0000 GMT) (Several counties in north-western Florida are an hour behind the rest of the state.)

Rating in presidential contest: Toss-up

Other key races: Competitive US House of Representative races in the 15th and 26th Districts

Vote counting: Florida has no-excuse absentee voting.

Election officials can begin scanning ballots more than three weeks before election day, but results cannot be generated until after polls are closed.

All ballots must be received by the close of polls on election day to be counted.

Ballots flagged for signature errors can be corrected, however, until 5pm on Thursday.

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Georgia

Electoral votes: 16

Polls close: 7pm EST

Rating in presidential contest: Toss-up

Other key races: Both US Senate seats are up for grabs and considered competitive.

Vote counting: Georgia has no-excuse absentee voting.

Ballots must be received by clerks by the close of polls on election day.

Ballots can be opened and scanned on receipt, but they cannot be tallied until after the polls close on Tuesday.

New Hampshire

Electoral votes: 4

Polls close: Between 7pm and 8pm EST, depending on jurisdiction

Rating in presidential contest: Leans Democratic

Other key races: Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, looks poised to win re-election.

Vote counting: New Hampshire state officials have said all voters are able to cast an absentee ballot if they have concerns about Covid-19, and the ballots must be received by 5pm on election day.

Ballots could be pre-processed in some jurisdictions beginning on Oct 29, but not counted until the polls have closed on Tuesday.

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North Carolina

Electoral votes: 15

Polls close: 7.30pm EST

Rating in presidential contest: Toss-up

Other key races: Competitive governor and US Senate contests

Vote counting: North Carolina has no-excuse absentee voting.

Absentee ballots can be scanned weeks in advance, but results cannot be tallied before election day.

In a blow to Mr Trump, the US Supreme Court declined last week to block the state’s plan to tally ballots that are postmarked by Tuesday and arrive by Nov 12.


Voters at First Ward Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Nov 3, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ohio

Electoral votes: 18

Polls close: 7.30pm EST

Rating in presidential contest: Toss-up

Other key races: Competitive US House contest in the 1st District

Vote counting: Ohio has no-excuse absentee voting.

Ballots could be scanned, but not tallied, as early as Oct 6.

Absentee ballots are the first to be counted on election night.

Mail ballots had to be postmarked by Monday and received by 10 days after Tuesday’s election to be counted.


Voters wait in line before dawn and before the doors open at a polling location at the Edinburg Town Hall in Edinburg, Ohio, on Nov 3, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Michigan

Electoral votes: 16

Polls close: 8pm EST (0100 GMT on Wednesday) (Four counties bordering Wisconsin are an hour behind the rest of the state.)

Rating in presidential contest: Leans Democratic

Other key races: Competitive US Senate contest

Vote counting: Michigan has no-excuse absentee voting.

Ballots must arrive at clerks’ offices by the close of polls on election day.

Some densely populated jurisdictions in the state, such as Detroit, began sorting absentee ballots on Monday, but the vast majority did not.

Clerks could begin scanning and counting absentee ballots at 7am on Tuesday.

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Pennsylvania

Electoral votes: 20

Polls close: 8pm EST

Rating in presidential contest: Leans Democratic

Other key races: Competitive US House contests in the 1st and 10th Districts

Vote counting: Pennsylvania has no-excuse absentee voting, and ballot counting can begin at 7am on election day.

Last Wednesday, the US Supreme Court let stand a ruling by Pennsylvania’s top court that officials in the state can accept mail-in ballots three days after Tuesday’s election, so long as they were postmarked by election day.


Voters queueing at Oakmont United Methodist Church in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, on Nov 3, 2020. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Texas

Electoral votes: 38

Polls close: 8pm EST (Two western counties in Texas are an hour behind the rest of the state.)

Rating in presidential contest: Toss-up

Other key races: Competitive US Senate contest

Vote counting: Texas voters must qualify to vote by mail, for example by being older than 65, being ill or disabled, or not being present in their voting county during the early voting period through election day.

All voters can vote early in person.

The population of a county determines when election officials can pre-process and count mail ballots.

If the county has more than 100,000 people, the ballots may be counted after polls close on the last day of in-person early voting in the state, which was Oct 30.

Ballots will still be counted if they are postmarked by Tuesday and received by 5pm the day after the election.

For military and overseas voters, that deadline is extended through the end of business on Nov 9.


Voters queueing outside a polling station in Houston, Texas, on Nov 3, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

Wisconsin

Electoral votes: 10

Polls close: 9pm EST (0200 GMT on Wednesday)

Rating in presidential contest: Leans Democratic

Other key races: No governor or US Senate races on the ballot

Vote counting: Wisconsin has no-excuse absentee voting.

The state’s election officials cannot count mail-in ballots that arrive after election day, the US Supreme Court ruled on Oct 26.

Ballots cannot be counted until the polls open on Tuesday.

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Minnesota

Electoral votes: 10

Polls close: 9pm EST

Rating in presidential contest: Leans Democratic

Other key races: Competitive contests for the US Senate and US House in the 1st and 7th Districts

Vote counting: Minnesota has no-excuse absentee voting, and ballots must be pre-processed within five days of receipt.

Beginning on Oct 20, ballots could be opened and logged, but the results are only tabulated after polls close on election day.

A federal appeals court ruled last week that the state’s plan to count absentee ballots received after election day was illegal.

Arizona

Electoral votes: 11

Polls close: 9pm EST

Rating in presidential contest: Leaning Democratic

Other key races: Competitive US Senate contest

Vote counting: Arizona has no-excuse absentee voting. All ballots must arrive by the close of polls on election day.

Ballots could be scanned and tabulated starting 14 days before Tuesday but results not reported until after polls close on election day.

Nevada

Electoral votes: 6

Polls close: 10pm EST (0300 GMT on Wednesday)

Rating in presidential contest: Leans Democratic

Other key races: No governor or US Senate contests on the ballot

Vote counting: Nevada has no-excuse absentee voting, and ballots can be processed upon receipt.

Nevada officials could begin scanning and recording ballots 14 days before the election, but results are not released until election night.

Ballots postmarked by Tuesday will be counted so long as they arrive within seven days after the election.

Iowa

Electoral votes: 6

Polls close: 10pm EST

Rating in presidential contest: Toss-up

Other key races: Competitive US Senate contest

Vote counting: Iowa has no-excuse absentee voting. The ballots must be received by the close of polls on election day, or by noon the following Monday if they were postmarked by Nov 2.

Election officials were allowed to begin opening ballot envelopes on the Saturday before the election and begin scanning and tabulating them on Monday.

For live updates and results, follow our US election live coverage.

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