When will the US have elections?

The process of the US election at a glance

Biden or Trump? The US elects its next president. When do the main polling stations close? When will a result be announced? Everything you need to know about election day.

The US President is not elected directly by the people, but by electoral officials from the states. The following applies to their appointment: Winner takes all!

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The time has come: the polling stations in the USA have opened and the Americans are electing the country's new president in what many have described as fateful. Acting President and Republican Donald Trump is well behind its democratic challenger in the polls Joe Biden.

The decision in which states is important? When do the individual polling stations close? When is the result of the US electionto be expected? And why is postal voting so controversial? Questions and answers about the election day.

How the polling stations close in the US election

Between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. German time, polling stations open in the USA - earliest in the east of the country and most recently in western states such as California. The inconsistency is related to the different time zones of the individual states.

This means that the polling stations also close at different times and the intermediate results for the individual states are gradually announced during the course of the night. While in Virginia If the first numbers arrive at one o'clock in the morning German time, you can still dial in four hours in California.

The table shows when the last polling stations close in each state.

Swing States: Which states are important in the US election

In around two-thirds of all states, Trump or Biden have such a large survey lead that the winner is almost certain there. Biden will undoubtedly win the Democratic strongholds of California, New York and Massachusetts, while Trump will win Republican bastions such as Wyoming, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

So-called Swing States are states in which there was no clear tendency for a candidate in the pre-election polls. Above all, the outcome in the more populous swing states will be decisive for victory in the presidential election.

For example, if one of the candidates wins early at night Ohio (1:30 a.m. closing of the polling stations), Florida (2:00 a.m.) and Pennsylvania (2:00 a.m.), that would be a clear tendency towards an election victory. Other swing states that close early are Georgia (1:00 a.m.) and North Carolina (1:30 a.m.).

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A special focus this year is also on Texas, which is actually considered a Republican stronghold. since Jimmy Carter 1976 no Democratic presidential candidate could win Texas anymore.

But the second-largest US state with 21.6 million voters is considered contested in the polls.

When will the new US president be determined?

If the result is relatively clear, the winner of the US presidential election is likely to be between 5 and 9 a.m. German time proclaimed. Whether Biden or Trump has won can be foreseen beforehand.

If there is a narrow exit, they are above all Postal voter who played a special role in this election campaign anyway. Then the result will be delayed: it could even take up to several days before a winner is determined.

Several swing states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan have already announced that the vote count could drag on until Friday. It could take as long in Wisconsin. These three states alone have 46 votes on the electoral body.

The US electoral system

  • The Electoral College electoral system prevails in the United States. This was laid down in the constitution. The founding fathers of the United States wanted to ensure that the elections could take place fairly according to the area and population of the states. There are a total of 538 electors in Electoral College. To become president, candidates must get an absolute majority of 270 electoral votes.

    The system has been criticized for years, but so far there has been no serious attempt to change the law. The topic was discussed again after the 2016 presidential election, as many were dissatisfied that Clinton lost the election, even though she had received the most votes in the general population.

  • In the United States, the available electoral votes in each state are not divided into percentages, but the candidate with the most votes receives all of the electoral votes. The other candidates go away empty-handed.

  • Swing states are states in which there is no fixed majority for either of the two major parties. States like California traditionally vote Democratic majority, Texas traditionally vote Republican majority. Such traditional voting behavior does not exist in the swing states. They are therefore hotly contested in every election, because this is where elections can be decided.

  • Donald Trump won many of the swing states in 2016. It achieved a majority in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Hillary Clinton won Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Virginia. Just through the victories in the swing states, Trump was able to secure 125 electoral votes, while Clinton could only get 42 here. That was decisive for Trump's election victory.

  • The electoral system with the "winner-takes-all" rule applies to both the primaries and the presidential election. Candidates must therefore campaign strategically to win in those states where the largest number of electoral votes for Electoral College can be obtained. In addition, the swing states are particularly important in the presidential election.

What special role the postal vote plays

Through the corona-pandemic In the USA, significantly more voters want to cast their votes by letter. There, in some states such as Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, the votes are only counted by letter on election day, which is the case additional delays can lead. In addition, in some states, the date of the postmark counts for postal votes. Votes can still be sent on election day and thus only arrive days after the election.

Also want according to surveys more Democrats than Republicans use postal votes. Therefore, the first counting results from the polling stations could see Trump in the lead in some places, but the counting of the postal voting documents ultimately help Biden win.

President Trump repeatedly claims, loudly and publicly, that postal votes are particularly vulnerable to fraud. Should he lose because of these votes, is open whether he will contest the result.

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1 min

Who watches over the election results?

When all polling stations in the respective state are closed, the major US television stations will publish the first figures. They are based on voter surveys after they have cast their votes, initial vote counts in the polling stations and telephone surveys.

There is no responsible person at the federal level, like the Federal Returning Officer in Germany, in the USA. Instead, there are 51 election officers from the state and capital, Washington, who are responsible for organizing the election and counting the votes. In the event of a dispute, the courts usually have the last word.

Scenarios for the US election outcome

  • If Donald Trump wins the votes of the electorate but not the majority of the electorate, Joe Biden could try to challenge the result and get supporters to protest.

  • If Biden barely gets the votes of the electorate, Trump could try to challenge the result and get his supporters to protest.

  • The result is still unclear on the day after the election and afterwards, neither of the parties wants to accept a very close, belated result.

  • Only in this scenario, when Joe Biden gets all of the electoral votes and the votes of the electorate, experts see a peaceful transfer of power.

    Source: Transition Integrity Project

Who can choose anything between Trump and Biden?

Is eligible to vote initially each of the approximately 330 million US citizenswho is at least 18 years old. Residents of U.S. suburbs such as Puerto Rico as well as many inmates and people convicted of a serious crime are excluded.

All other citizens must vote before voting first register with the responsible electoral office.

What else is elected besides the President in the USA?

At the same time as the presidential election, the Americans also vote on the composition of the US Congress from. Everyone can vote 435 seats in the House of Representatives as well as around a Third of the 100 seats in the Senate. There are also many popular votes in the states.

You can follow all developments of the election in the USA here in the live blog: