He has been waging a months-long campaign against mail-in voting in November by tweeting and speaking critically about the practice, which has been encouraged by more states to keep voters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a July interview, the president similarly refused to commit to accepting the results. “I have to see. Look … I have to see,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
Now, a question once considered unthinkable is being asked: What if the US president does not accept election defeat? Is there a contingency plan in case the president and his supporters refuse to go quietly?
What time will we know the US election winner?
Election night may not deliver the definitive winner the public has come to expect. The unprecedented number of mail-in ballots this election, prompted by Covid-19, could cause significant delays. While some states start counting postal ballots before election day, some wait until the polls close.
If there is no clear winner on the night, counting could take days, or even weeks, although most officials in the vital ‘swing’ states have said they hope to have declared a result by the weekend after the election at the latest.
No matter the final result, President Trump will remain in the Oval Office after the election if he loses, he will officially become a ‘lame duck’ president, with 73 days of his term to serve out before handing over the keys to the White House. On 20 January 2021, the winner of this election will deliver their inaugural address on the steps of the US Capitol building.
What time are exit polls?
After the polls close in the US, broadcasters will use a variety of data, including exit polls to try and predict the result.
Networks usually start releasing the data from exit polls before 6pm EST (11pm GMT).
Exit polls are polls taken from people immediately after they have exited their voting station. Not every voter is interviewed so the exit polls are not always accurate. They help to gauge the election result, as the actual result can take days or even weeks to become clear.
When do the swing states announce their results?
- 11 electoral seats.
- Although traditionally a Republican stronghold, Trump won the state by just 3.5% in 2016.
- Polls close 7.00 pm local time (2 am GMT). Officials plan to release initial results around 8 pm local time (3 am GMT).
- 29 electoral seats.
- Key to any Republican win.
- Polls close 7.00 pm local time (11 pm GMT). Initial results are expected around 8pm local time (12am GMT).
- 16 electoral seats.
- Changing demographics have seen Georgia become progressively less safe for Republicans in recent years.
- Polls close 7.00 pm local time (11 pm GMT). Georgia does not begin counting mail-in ballots until after polls close, meaning the result may not be clear on the night.
- 16 electoral seats.
- The closest-run state of 2016, Donald Trump managed to flip the state Republican against Hillary Clinton.
- Most polls close 8.00 pm local time (12 am GMT). Some jurisdictions count mail-in ballots before election day, but not all, meaning state-wide results are not expected until a couple of days afterwards.
- 10 electoral seats.
- Minnesota went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, but it was a close-run contest.
- Polls close 8.00 pm local time (1 am GMT). Initial results are expected soon after that.
- 15 electoral seats.
- Considered by some a “must win” for President Trump.
- Polls close 7.30 pm local time (11.30 pm GMT). The state expects to report initial results as the polls close, due to the high number of early voters.
- 18 electoral seats.
- Donald Trump won Ohio by over eight points in 2016, but it has been a major battleground this year.
- Polls close 7.30 pm local time (11.30 pm GMT). Mail-in ballots are not counted until election day, but Ohio expects to release early results on the night.
- 20 electoral seats.
- Formerly one of the Democrats’ solid “Blue Wall” states, Pennsylvania was narrowly flipped by Donald Trump in 2016.
- Polls close 8.00 pm local time (12 am GMT). Mail-in ballots cannot be counted until election day: officials hope to have a result in the days following.
- 38 electoral seats.
- The second-biggest state for electoral college votes, changing demographics in Texan cities have made it competitive.
- Most polls close 7.00 pm local time (12 am GMT). Texas tends to announce its results fairly early in the evening.
- 10 electoral seats.
- In 2016 Donald Trump defied the pollsters to squeak a surprise victory in Wisconsin.
- Polls close 8.00 pm local time (1 am GMT). Officials have predicted an announcement on election night or soon after.