First, have you voted? If not, make your plan and go vote now. Many states allow same-day registration. For rules in your state, check CNN’s voter guide here.
Here are key things to know for tonight:
How long will election night last?: Who knows! CNN won’t project a winner of a state until polls in that state close (and maybe much later if things are tight).
When do polls close?: Polls close at various times starting at 7 p.m. ET on the East Coast. The last polls will close at 1 a.m. ET in Alaska.
When do the polls close in key battleground states?
- 7 p.m. ET — Georgia, which is interesting at the presidential and Senate levels. Kentucky and South Carolina have key Senate races.
- 7:30 p.m. ET — North Carolina and Ohio. There’s a tight Senate race in North Carolina.
- 8 p.m. ET — Florida and Pennsylvania. Maine has a key Senate race.
- 9 p.m. ET — Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin. There are also key Senate races in Arizona, Michigan, Colorado and Texas.
- 10 p.m. ET — Iowa and Nevada
When will we know the winner? This is an impossible question to answer, because we don’t know how all the early voting will affect different states’ ability to report results quickly.
Many, many more millions of Americans have voted early in person or by mail this year than usual because of the pandemic, so it could take more time to count those ballots, particularly in a few key battleground states (ahem, Pennsylvania).
What do we know about how the vote will come in on election night?
We have some educated guesses.
- We might know some states early. A very large proportion of Americans are voting early and in most states, election officials can tee up those ballots to generate results quickly after polls close. So in contested states like Florida and Texas, we may have a very good idea early in the night how things will go.
- It might take some states many days. In Pennsylvania, for instance, election officials can’t do anything with early ballots until Election Day. Some counties won’t even pick them up until the day after Election Day.
Read more here.