US Election 2020: when will we find out the results?

The world waits for news

US Election 2020
(Image credit: Alamy)

After months of campaigning, the day of the US 2020 election has finally arrived. Now across the world, people are waiting with baited breath to hear the final result.

So far a staggering 99 million people have cast their votes in advance of election day. This marks the first time in history that saw more Americans vote early than on the election day itself.

And with only hours left until the voting comes to a close, millions of Americans are still yet to cast their votes. Though early reports are coming in, it’s still unclear exactly which way it will go. Will it be another presidency for Donald Trump or will Democratic candidate Joe Biden prove victorious?

When do the US polls open?

The opening and closing times for the US polls vary depending on where in the country someone is voting.

Most polls open at 6am and the latest polls such as those in New York stay open until 9am local time.

In some states including Vermont, voters are even able to cast their ballots from 5am local time.

However no matter where votes are being cast, all polling stations will shut by 9pm local time on November 3.

How could Covid-19 affect counting the votes?

The astonishing number of postal votes, reportedly well over twice the number from 2016 US election, is both brilliant news and a cause of potential delays.

Given concerns over Covid-19, millions of American chose to cast their vote by post this year.

However, some states will continue to count ballots that are delivered after the election, as long as they are postmarked by a deadline.

US Election 2020 voting

Washington State is one such example. There, mail-in ballots can still be counted on 23 November.

And in Alaska, officials don’t begin to count posted ballots until around 10 November.

It’s not just mail-in votes which could cause delays. The safety precautions put in place to help protect voters and officials alike mean that there may well be long queues outside polling stations.

Ballot counters will also have to abide by social distancing restrictions (opens in new tab) and exit polls will also be affected.

The world’s news outlets have long relied on exit polls to help them anticipate or predict (opens in new tab) the possible outcome as the voting closes in different states. However these too will be affected by Covid-19.

When will we find out the US Election 2020 results?

US elections officials and media organisations that typically call races on election night have reportedly said there is a good chance that the winner will not be clear by midnight tonight.

If so, that would not be an unprecedented event. In fact, the count has gone on past midnight in three of the last five elections.

All of this suggests it could potentially take several days for the full results to be evident.

It looks like the world might have to wait that little bit longer to know who will be America's next president.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.