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Here’s Everything You Need for Election Day

by Countable | 11.7.16

The 2016 election is finally here! Polls will open at 6am or 7am in most locations Tuesday morning. Here’s everything you need in order to get ready for Election Day.

Where and when can I vote?

The Voting Info Project has a great tool that allows you to type in your address and (using Google maps) see where your polling location is, what its hours are and get directions there.

In most states, you have to be registered to vote already, but ten states and D.C. allow you to show up and register on Election Day. They are: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota (which doesn’t require voters to register at all), Wisconsin, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.

PSA

You cannot text to vote, despite what some social media ads might say.

Do I need an ID or other documents?

If this is your first time voting in your state and you didn’t register in person, no matter where you live, yes. You’ll need something that has your current name and address on it (like a driver’s license or a utility bill).

For all other voters, the National Conference of State Legislatures has a map that will show you what documents your state requires in order to vote.

What if I have problems voting?

You can call the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE. The group is a nonpartisan organization that works with both volunteers and attorneys to help people vote, by answering questions about identification, long lines, etc. and responding to allegations of vote tampering, concerns about polling location practices, voter intimidation and more.

What’s on my ballot?

The League of Women Voters has a great tool that shows you not only who is on your ballot and what initiatives your area is voting on, but in many states gives you statements from the candidates about why they are running for office and how they feel about the big issues that affect you. Check it out here.

When will we see results?

The first results will come in at 7pm EST, when polls close on the East Coast. The last polls will close in Hawaii at 6pm local time (that’s 11pm EST). But that doesn’t mean that all of those races will be decided on-time. Due to some expected close races in swing states, the presidential race and some of the major Senate races could go late into the night.

Where do these results come from?

A lot of states will be called long before ballots are counted (and none of the results will be verified by state elections officials for days or even weeks after the election is over). Those calls made by TV networks rely on a number of things, including:

  • Historical safe bets (chances are extremely low that Donald Trump will win Washington state or that Hillary Clinton will win North Dakota, for example).

  • Exit polling, in which news networks interview voters as they leave the voting booth and ask who they voted for, then use that data to extrapolate how a particular county or state is voting.

  • Prior polling of a state and how it compares to the exit polls

  • Raw data coming from state elections offices of actual ballots cast on Tuesday night that have already been counted.

  • Demographic analysis of particular counties

How does the Electoral College work exactly?

The talking heads are going to be spending a lot of time getting really into the weeds on the Electoral College on Election Night. Here’s everything you need to know about how it works and how presidential races are decided.

— Sarah Mimms

Countable

Written by Countable

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