US Election Day: States to watch that could determine Trump-Biden winner

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This year’s US presidential elections are different for several reasons, including the widespread use of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats are believed to benefit most from the mail-in ballots - heavily criticized by President Donald Trump - which is why initial exit polls in some states may be inaccurately portrayed to favor one side over the other.

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The system used in US voting means that in order to become president, a candidate must receive 270 votes in the Electoral College, which places significant importance on swing states.

Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nov. 2, 2020. (Reuters)
Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nov. 2, 2020. (Reuters)

Some of the major swing states include Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona and North Carolina.

The number of Electoral College votes allocated to these states could very well determine the outcome of this year’s presidential election.

Al Arabiya English has compiled a list of the more important states in terms of the Electoral College and how the votes are counted in each.

Florida - 29 Electoral College votes

Mail-in ballots and absentee ballots are expected to be tallied and released ahead of Election Day results. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the mailed ballots must be submitted to the secretary of state within 30 minutes of the polls closing. The votes cast on Election Day have to be submitted by 2 AM EST. The last polls in Florida close at 8 PM EST. However, Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Christina White was quoted as saying that there was a possibility “that we’ll still be tabulating ballots on Wednesday.”

Ohio - 18 Electoral College votes

Like Florida, mailed ballots are to be tallied before the last polls close on Election Tuesday. Being counted first, Democrats are anticipated to have a stronger outlook when these initial ballots are counted. But mailed ballots that are postmarked by Nov. 13 will be allowed this year.

Michigan - 16 Electoral College votes

One of the key states that Trump won in 2016 could be one of the later results released. Mail-in ballots and absentee ballots are not counted ahead of time in the Wolverine State, meaning Trump could appear as the stronger candidate if a substantial number of mailed ballots are left uncounted until after polls are closed at 9 PM EST. But unlike Ohio, postmarked mailed ballots will not be accepted after Election Day. Trump closed out his campaign in Michigan on Monday night.

Pennsylvania - 20 Electoral College votes

Being one of the battleground states and seen as a must-win, this is where Biden will be spending much of Election Night. But the state’s Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar previously suggested that vote counting would not be finished before Friday, Nov. 6. Pennsylvania will be closely watched with the governor being a Democrat, but both legislative chambers are controlled by Republicans. This raises the possibility that Republican officials in the state could choose to ignore the popular vote and cast the votes for Trump in the Electoral College. The penalty in certain states for doing such a thing is a fine.

North Carolina - 15 Electoral College votes

Mailed ballots are expected to be counted before the polls close in North Carolina at 7:30 PM EST. Votes submitted on Election Day are then anticipated in the hours following. Trump visited North Carolina on Monday during his final campaign tour across several battleground states after his running mate, Vice President Mike Pence, held a campaign there over the weekend.

Arizona - 11 Electoral College votes

The Grand Canyon State has long been “Red,” or Republican-controlled. But Democrats are hoping to build off momentum started in 2018 when the first Democratic senator was elected. Pence and Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, made separate trips to Arizona in recent days to cement their respective parties’ control. The last time Arizona voted for a Democratic presidential candidate was in 1996, for Bill Clinton. Mailed ballots are to be counted first, but it will be one of the later states determined due to the time difference. The last polls close at 9 PM EST.

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