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Source: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Getty

D-Day is upon us, or E-Day we suppose.

Either way, many people woke up this morning with a general fatigue and/or anxiety over what has been touted as the most important election of our lifetime. A good majority of us have been through this routine before, staying up all night to see who will grasp the win in securing 270 Electoral College votes to become the next leader of the United States. For those who are entering the room for the first time, you can sit back and relax because this election could drag out for a few days, weeks or even months.

The election has always taken place over the course of a few weeks, if not months when you think about it. The final counts for votes are usually not fully tallied until days after and the new president doesn’t formally take their seat until January, following the election.

Results shared by TV reporters are usually based on partial counts, mostly administered by leading news source, The Associated Press. Election night is sort of a new tradition which began once television culture entered our social consciousness. Along the years the tradition has ramped up with hours of analysis, commentary, maps, live views from polling stations and predictions.

And on top of that, Trump has toyed with the idea of refusing to transfer power peacefully, while also spreading false information about absentee voting. He’s also somehow opposed to letting the numbers play out and believes votes should not be counted after Election Day.

This year’s election is unprecedented in many ways, mainly relating to the mass use of mail in ballots and voters appearing in droves to take advantage of early voting. According to the U.S. Elections Project nearly 100 million people have already voted in this election. 35.7 million people had in person and 63.9 million cast ballots by mail due to safety precautions from the coronavirus.

But there’s sort of a method to the madness. First, counting is determined by when the polls close in each state. You can find out when the polls in your state is scheduled to close, by using The New York Times’ interactive map, found here.

Also tonight’s winner is predicated on a number of factors.

If Biden wins a majority of the east and Florida, a path to presidency for Trump may not be possible. On the other hand, if Trump gains momentum in the east and in Florida, the Midwest could be the tide turner.

The third scenario is a bit darker, harkening back to the 2000 presidential election which was delayed after Democratic nominee Al Gore contested the results against George W. Bush, leading to Bush being declared the winner in December 2000. Because of the large usage of mail in ballots, a variety of states do not expect accurate counts until after Election Day.

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