Election Night: What we know and what we don't know


Election Night is here.

After a particularly vicious campaign season amid a global pandemic, Americans will finish casting their votes Tuesday between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. But with an unprecedented number of absentee ballots and numerous legal challenges on election interference, a lot remains unknown around one of the most anxious days of an already trying year.

Here’s what we know and don’t know about Election Day 2020:

What we know:

About 100 million Americans voted before Election Day

With a record number of mail-in ballots expected due to the coronavirus pandemic and a rush to early voting amid concerns over the postal service, a jaw-dropping 100 million Americans already voted before Tuesday. For reference, about 138 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election in total.

Final polls show Biden ahead in enough swing states to win

Polls just before Election Day showed Joe Biden eclipsing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 leads in key swing states. Though several states remain too close to call, the final polls would have to be substantially more inaccurate than in 2016 for Trump to win.

Where Trump and Biden are spending Election Night

Biden plans to spend the final hours of the day at home in Delaware with his family. Trump will spend the evening at the White House, where he is planning an election party with hundreds of guests.

What we don’t know:

When we’ll know who the next president is

Final results in a number of states likely won’t get in until days after Election Day. As large swaths of voters are planning to mail in their ballots — some sent as late as Election Day — critical states like Pennsylvania will still be counting by day’s end. Still, we’ll likely know the results Tuesday night in a number of key swing states, including Florida and Georgia.

Just how bad are the Postal Service problems

News of a sub-optimally functioning Postal Service caused serious fears about the efficacy of mail-in voting. And the drama has carried into Election Day. A federal judge ordered the Postal Service to send inspectors to check for any remaining ballots not yet delivered in a number of swing states as their deadlines for accepting ballots approach.

How much has misinformation influenced the election

Misinformation has only expanded in scale since the 2016 election, and the shenanigans seem to be targeting voters directly. Election officials and voters alike have been reporting robocalls across the country, telling them to either stay home or vote on the wrong day.

Will Trump concede

Trump has repeatedly refused to entertain the possibility of losing and famously declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should Biden win. It’s unknown how the president will respond if the former vice president prevails as a clear winner, but he did acknowledge Tuesday that he’d declare himself winner “only when there’s a victory.”

“There’s no reason to play games,” Trump said.

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