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US CITIZENS ARE continuing to vote with polls open in the country’s much-anticipated presidential election.

As the day unfolds, President Donald Trump and his rival Joe Biden have been visiting headquarters and hometowns in a last-minute bid to connect with voters.

Both candidates are on the east of the country, with Trump telling listeners at the Republican offices in Virginia that voters should be “entitled” to know the election’s outcome on the same day as voting, while Biden, speaking from Pennsylvania, has promised to end the division between red states and blue states if elected.

Over 100 million Americans have already voted through postal ballots, and inspectors have been told to sweep postal processing facilities in areas of several states to check for any missing ballots.

We’ll be liveblogging through the night to bring you all the developments as they happen. And our team of reporters and columnists will be breaking down what the results mean (and what happens next) from well before dawn on Wednesday morning.

It all kicks off here, so stay tuned for updates throughout the day (and night).

If you’re looking for some pieces to get you up to speed, here are some pieces that have appeared on TheJournal.ie in the last few days:

Good afternoon. Stephen McDermott here to kick things off – welcome to our coverage.

You can send me articles, videos, tweets or anything else that’s election-related by email at stephen.mcdermott@thejournal.ie, or on Twitter at @Ste_McDermott.

As we mentioned above, polls have already opened in some US states.

It’s going to be a long 24 hours or so, so thankfully my colleague Rónán Duffy has written this handy guide to the various times that things will happen at.

According to Rónán, things will start to get interesting after 12.30am, but 2am might be a more realistic to get a clear idea of how things are playing out. 

But obviously, there’s to happen before then…

There’s been plenty of speculation about how postal voting will affect things this time out – and if Donald Trump refuses to accept the result or declares victory prematurely.

I’ve written here about how the US could be heading for a constitutional crisis if Trump doesn’t accept the result, but there’s also a couple of other good pieces speculating about what could happen.

This piece in The Atlantic outlines how the US can avoid violence if the outcome of the election is disputed, and this article in The Guardian is an interesting look at how media outlets plan to deal with Trump declaring a premature win.

In the battle of election day tweets, which admittedly counts for absolutely nothing, Biden and Trump have deployed wildly diverging strategies.

Biden has drawn on his experience serving as Vice President to Barack Obama, in what’s something of a heartfelt plea to voters…

Trump, on the other hand, has gone for a more simple message, accompanied by a video of him badly dancing to the YMCA…

Almost all of the results won’t happen until at least tomorrow, but one US town has already declared its result: Dixville Notch, a small village on the border with Canada.

Its whopping five votes went to Joe Biden.

Voters are already forming long lines in parts of New York, according to videos and images being shared on social media:

Donald Trump is currently speaking into his favourite news phone-in show Fox and Friends. Reports say he was 45 minutes late and sounds tired.

The president told the show that he is going to make a “big series of phone calls” today, and that his team believes he is ahead in Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – all of which are key states for Trump to retain the presidency.

Trump also told Fox and Friends that he’ll declare victory “only when there’s victory”, adding that  “there’s no reason to play games”.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden has just visited St Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware, where he visited the grave of his son Beau, who died in 2015.

election-2020-biden Source: Carolyn Kaster/PA Images

Interestingly, Biden would become only the second Roman Catholic president of the US if he was elected. John F Kennedy remains the only Catholic president to date.

It’s lunchtime, so here’s a summary of all the activity so far:

  • Polling stations have opened in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine.
  • Trump is planning to visit his campaign headquarters in Virginia, while Biden is expected to travel to his birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
  • Trump told Fox and Friends that he won’t “play games” by calling a victory early – despite previously suggesting he could try to do so if early returns show him ahead.
  • Dixville Notch in New Hampshire has declared the first result of this year’s election, with its five votes all going to Biden.

It’s lunchtime, so here’s a summary of all the activity so far:

  • Polling stations have opened in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine.
  • Trump is planning to visit his campaign headquarters in Virginia, while Biden is expected to travel to his birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
  • Trump told Fox and Friends that he won’t “play games” by calling a victory early – despite previously suggesting he could try to do so if early returns show him ahead.
  • Dixville Notch in New Hampshire has declared the first result of this year’s election, with its five votes all going to Biden.

We’ll be covering the US election in-depth, both tonight and in the days and weeks ahead. Please consider supporting this, and our other work, with a monthly subscription or one-off contribution here: TheJournal.ie/contribute

Things have quietened down a bit for the moment, so I’ll be handing over duties to my colleague Hayley Halpin for the moment. Welcome Hayley…

Hayley Halpin here to keep you up to date for the next while. 

You can send me articles, videos, tweets or anything else that’s election-related by email at hayley@thejournal.ie, or on Twitter at @HayleyHalpin1. 

It’s not just the occupant of the White House that Americans will be voting on today. And no, we’re not talking about the Senate or House of Representatives either.

Election day in the US is a chance for people in different states to directly vote on potential laws.

Propositions, as they’re usually called, are essentially referendums on specific issues that often force some significant societal changes across the US. 

Our reporter Rónán Duffy takes a look at what else US citizens will be voting on today:

Between face masks and sanitisation stations, this year’s polling stations look a lot different due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

news-election-day-2020 A long line of citizens wait to vote at the polling location at First English Lutheran Church Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

election-2020-massachusetts-voting Poll worker Kathy Richardson uses a spray bottle to sanitize a voting booth at Marshfield High School Source: Steven Senne via PA Images

news-election-day-2020 Election day in Portage County - Katelyn Hahn sanitises her hands as she is the next in line to get her ballot Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

election-2020-massachusetts-voting Poll Worker Suzan Winfrey, centre left, speaks through a plastic barrier while assisting a voter in a polling station at Marshfield High School Source: Steven Senne via PA Images

election-2020-florida-voting People line up to vote outside of the John F. Kennedy Library Source: Lynne Sladky via PA Images

“We can overcome these crises. We can take our country back. We can win the battle for the soul of the nation,” Joe Biden writes on Twitter.

In Washington and many other cities, stores have been boarding up and law enforcement is on high alert.

It’s unlikely we’ll have a clear winner today or even tomorrow morning, but over the coming weeks we’ll soon know whether the public have deemed Donald Trump worthy of a second term to continue with his efforts to make America great again, or if they’ve had enough, and want a change in the form of Joe Biden.

Either way, TheJournal.ie‘s The Explainer took a look at what Trump’s legacy could be – either from his first term or his entire presidency, depending on how voting pans out.

Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud

That’s all from me for now.

My colleague Stephen McDermott will be taking you through the next few hours…

Thanks Hayley. As before, you can email me photos, videos, or opinions at stephen.mcdermott@thejournal.ie, or tweet them to me at @Ste_McDermott.

Joe Biden has visited his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he spoke at a small event to some supporters.

election-2020-biden Source: Carolyn Kaster/PA Images

One ominous development over the past 24 hours has been the boarding-up of buildings across the US in anticipation of protests in coming days….

Meanwhile, Donald Trump Junior has made an electoral map prediction. Ireland is apparently voting for the Republicans…

Chad Wolf, acting secretary of homeland security, has urged voters to be patient in waiting for election results, saying it is important to recognise that the process may require time.

Nearly 100 million Americans are estimated to have voted by post in this year’s election, and officials in many states have warned that counting the large numbers of mail-in votes could take days.

Wolf also told a press briefing that US election systems remain “resilient” despite attempts by foreign countries like Iran and Russia to hack them and to obtain voter data. 

“We have no indications that a foreign actor has succeeded in compromising or affecting the actual votes cast in this election. But we do remain on high alert,” he said.

Chris Krebs, the head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is in charge of election security, said he is confident that the vote results will be secure.

But he warned that there was still time for people to try and disrupt the election, or for breakdowns in voting technology.

“There may be other events or activities or efforts to interfere and undermine confidence in the election,” he said.

“So I ask all Americans to be patient, to treat all sensational and unverified claims with skepticism.”

Meanwhile, Georgia – one of the states that could be crucial in deciding who will be the victor in the election – has reported issues with voting machines in some areas.

The issue isn’t reported to be widespread, although it’s apparently affecting multiple counties in the state.

There’s been a bit of a lull in the last few minutes, so here’s that Trump appearance on Fox and Friends from a couple of hours ago.

He does sound very tired…

While things have quietened down, here’s Gráinne Ní Aodha on what difference a Trump or Biden presidency would make to Ireland, particularly in the context of Brexit:

Whether we get a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and UK before the end of the year could be an unintended consequence of the US presidential election result. 

If Biden wins, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lost a powerful friend -  Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrats have been strong on upholding the Good Friday Agreement before any talk of a UK-US free trade deal begins. 

If Trump is re-elected, however, it could mean Boris Johnson will play hard-ball with the EU, and abandon trade talks in favour of a closer deal with the US.

You can read the full piece (including the non-Brexit implications of a Trump or Biden presidency) here.

Earlier, Joe Biden paid a visit to his childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. While there, he repeated something he did during the 2008 election, when he successfully ran for vice president with Barack Obama.

It’s official! We have our first Wednesday morning front page from the West Australian – though it has wisely not offered any predictions about the result.

Facebook, widely criticised for its role in the last election, has pledged real-time monitoring of election day misinformation and manipulation efforts.

The social media giant has launched an ‘Election Operations Centre’ (their caps) to monitor a range of issues in real time – including reports of voter suppression content.

The company says any content which attempts to suppress participation, intimidate voters or organise to do will be removed, while it will also place warning labels on any posts which seek to claim victory prematurely.

Twitter has also said it will add warning labels to tweets which call the election early, which will say that “official sources called this election differently”, or that “official sources may not have called the race when this was tweeted”.

Users will still be able to quote tweet any posts with the tag, but not like or retweet them.

Twitter says it will only consider the result official after it has been declared by a state election official, or confirmed by two or more specified news outlets.

Google-owned YouTube has also sought to limit the sharing of videos with election misinformation.

Timeline of events update:

That’s 7pm US time by the way, so midnight here.

Data compiled by watchdog the US Elections Project suggests that 100.2 million Americans have now voted, just shy of a third of the country’s population.

If you’re looking to make some of your own election predictions, there are various online tools you can use to impress your friends with your accuracy/embarrass yourself with your naivety.

This one from the New York Times has most of the work done (although you can change the pre-arranged calls), and provides details of different battleground states to help you decide.

And this one from the Fivethirtyeight gives insights based on its own simulation of the election 40,000 (!) times. 

You’ve probably heard that Pennsylvania is going to be one of the most crucial states when it comes to the outcome of this year’s election.

Our US columnist Larry Donnelly chatted to The Explainer last week about why that is:

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

An unsettling development from Michigan’s Attorney General…

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has popped up on RTÉ’s Drivetime predicting a Trump victory.

“The polls are irrelevant, because they don’t know how to poll people in the United States… working class people don’t want to connect with the pollsters,” he says.

Asked if he agrees with analysts that Trump must win Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania, Bannon says if Trump loses Texas “it’s over”.

He also says Trump has to hold North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona, and win Ohio and Pennsylvania – but that he disagrees that Trump is in trouble in some of these states.

Bannon was also asked about what Trump should do if he looks like he’s doing well in some of these states tonight, despite the requirement for postal ballots to be counted.

“I’d advise him tonight if he won Ohio and Florida, he ought to be definitive and set the framework [and declare a win],” he said.

That anonymous robocall that appeared in Michigan is also cropping up in Nebraska…

As you’re probably aware, tonight’s election will be a toss-up between candidates standing for the Republican and the Democrat parties.

Lee Drutman of Fivethirtyeight has looked at why this is.

He explains:

Almost all of our elections are held under rules that allow just one winner, a single round of voting and a plurality vote (whoever gets the most votes wins).

Under these rules, most voters consider voting for a third party to be a wasted vote, since the third-party candidate is unlikely to win. Political resources and ambitions flow into one of the two major parties, thus starving third parties of money and talent.

So if you didn’t know, now you do.

If you don’t trust opinion polls, here’s another way of predicting a winner this year.

News wire service the Associated Press has correctly predicted every US election for more than 150 years, by asking its local reporters.

That’s all from me today. I leave you in the hands of my colleague Lauren Boland. Over to you Lauren…

Thanks Stevie! Lauren here – if you have photos, videos, or opinions that you want to share with us as election day continues, email me at Lauren@thejournal.ie, or tweet them to me at @laurenanna_1.

As Americans continue to vote, many are telling local reporters that this election feels more consequential than any that has come before it, which may be no surprise in a year when “unprecedented” has been used with – well, unprecedented frequency.

In Washington DC, a 30-year-old attorney called Maggie Deal told the Press Association that she voted for Joe Biden because the “future of American democracy depends on it”.

“The country is faced with a really important decision and hopefully it’ll turn out the way I want it to,” Deal said. 

Deal voted at the Foundry United Methodist Church, a church less than a mile from the White House that’s in use today as a polling station.

Polling station The Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington DC, , which is being used as a polling station. Source: PA Images

Former presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren has weighed in to give her backing to Biden.

Warren, who ran against Biden earlier this year in a bid to become the Democratic nominee, said that “Trump has spread lies about voting, sowed distrust in the election, and won’t commit to a peaceful transition”.

“He’ll do whatever it takes to cling to power,” Warren wrote on Twitter.

“Vote like our democracy depends on it – because it does.”

Trump has claimed that he hasn’t thought about an acceptance speech or a concession speech yet.

At his campaign HQ in Virginia, the president was asked if he had prepared both an acceptance and a concession speech in advance of the election’s result.

“No, I’m not thinking about a concession speech or acceptance speech yet,” Trump said.

“Hopefully we’ll be only doing one of those two.”

“Winning is easy. Losing is never easy, not for me it’s not.”

He has also been asked whether he gave any of his own money to the campaign for his re-election, and said that the campaign had “plenty of money”.

A district judge has ordered a sweep of postal services in several states to make sure that no ballots sent through the post have been missed.

District Judge Emmett Sullivan told US Postal Service inspectors to check processing facilities in areas of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, Wyoming, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, and Arizona.

Mail-in ballots have been a key feature of this election, with around 100 million Americans choosing to vote in advance of election day.

With inspectors sweeping numerous postal processing facilities to check that no ballots are missed, it’s worth thinking about how mail-in ballots have shaped the election this year.

Over 101.9 million voters cast their ballot early this year, which meant that the US hit 73% of its total number of votes in 2016 before 2020 election day had even arrived.

In New York, 235,100 people cast their vote early in 2016 – now, in 2020, it was 3.7 million.

election-2020-early-vote-florida Miami-Dade resident James Curity deposits a ballot in a U.S. Postal Service mail box outside City Hall during early voting. Source: AP/PA Images

Because of the US’ electoral college system, some states are more important to seize votes in than others, and few are more important than Florida, where both candidates are hoping to nab its 29 electoral votes (the winner needs 270 from around the country).

In Miami-Dade, a county in Florida, voter turnout is on track to significantly beat its previous record.

The county is expecting to see a turnout of around 200,000 voters. Combined with votes sent in advance, that would be a total vote of 1.2 million in Miami-Dade, or 80% turnout, compared to just 72% in 2016. 

With huge numbers of ballots cast in advance, several states are expecting to continue to count votes well beyond tonight, such as Pennsylvania, where ballots sent through the mail that are received up to three days after the election will still be counted.

At his visit to the Republic offices in Virginia, Trump has said that the US should be “entitled to know” the winner on election day.

“You have to have a date, and the date happens to be November 3,” he said.

“And we should be entitled to know who won on November 3.”

Multiple states have already recorded a larger voter turnout than their total votes in the 2016 election as a result of increased early voting.

In Montana, turnout with early votes is at 102% compared to 2016; in Washington and Oregon, it’s at 105.4% and 104.8% respectively; and in Texas, it’s at a whopping 108.3%.

Some, however, have quite a gap to close with in-person voting to match their 2016 turnout. In West Virginia, early votes are equal to 19% of total votes in 2016, and in Alabama, early votes only reached 14.1% of the 2016 total turnout.

early votes as per cent of 2016 turnout Source: US Elections Project

In DC, supporters from both the Trump and Biden camps are gathering in the city in anticipation of the eventual result.

Crowds are gathering near the White House in Lafayette Square, which was renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza Northwest in June.

It’s been the site of protests in recent days, and it will only become busier as the ballots accumulate.

In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia by less than 1% (48.2% to 47.5%).

For Biden, Philadelphia is his home state, and it’s been one of his last stops today as voting continues around the country.

“We have an enormous opportunity as a country,” he told supporters in Pennsylvania in the last half hour.

“The public nationwide has figured it out. Not only are we going to be able to overcome this virus by making some smart moves – for real, we’re going to do it – but secondly, we’re going to rebuild the middle class. The middle class built this country and unions built the middle class.”

“If you elect me, I’m going to be an American president. There’s going to be no red states or blue states – just the United States of America.”

As Americans vote between Trump and Biden (and a handful of other third-party candidates), 2016 is still at the forefront of punditry and analysis – and for many, Hillary Clinton remains a key figure in their minds.

#StillWithHer has emerged as a popular hashtag on Twitter as Clinton’s supporters lament her loss from four years ago.

Some are using the hashtag as a way to encourage others to follow Clinton’s lead and vote for Biden as the Democratic candidate.

“The actions you take today will determine what kind of country we decide to be,” former President Barack Obama has told voters in a push to win votes for Biden and Harris.

“Consider how tight it was four years ago in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where less than a 1% difference determined the outcome of the entire election,” Obama said.

If you’re staying up overnight to watch the election, you may need to wait longer than expected to see what colour North Carolina turns.

Some results in North Carolina will be delayed by about an hour after voting times were extended at four polling locations because of technical issues earlier in the day.

Kanye West, who announced a bid for the presidency in July, has shared a video of him casting his ballot and voting for himself and running mate Michelle Tidball as a write-in. 

A man called Phil Scott has just said that he’s voted for Joe Biden. 

Why does that matter?

Because Scott is the Governor of Vermont, and he’s a Republican. Biden is a Democrat.

Phil Scott Source: https://twitter.com/GovPhilScott

Here’s the Washington Bureau chief of USA Today expressing a sentiment that many who are following the election long before there’s a result to discuss are feeling today.

Amid the campaigning frenzy, you might be looking at the candidates and imagining how being at the centre of a US election would feel.

Greg Delanty, an Irish man from Cork, has just written about his experience of running for office in Vermont and his experience of voting in the elections earlier this year.

Delanty Source: Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

After reports emerged from Flint, Michigan earlier today of attempted voter suppression with robocalls made to voters telling them to cast their ballot tomorrow instead of today, officials are urging the public to make sure to get their votes in.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has told voters that lines across the state are minimal, while Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said that precincts are “islands of calm, welcoming a steady stream of voters throughout the day”.

It’s almost time for me to hand you over to our night team, but before I go, here’s where you can see what, when, and how people are searching for information on Google about the election.

Google Search Candidates Source: Google

And that’s me folks. We’ll be bringing you more coverage of the election throughout the night across TheJournal.ie. Our overnight team are now taking the reins to guide you through the night and into tomorrow – whatever it holds.

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