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Election 2012: When Will We Know Who Won The Election?

By iDigital Times Staff Reporter on November 5, 2012 10:45 PM EST 0

People take part in early voting in Columbus, Ohio October 30, 2012
Who is Winning the Election? Here are the States by Poll (Photo: Reuters)

More than 34 million early and absentee ballots have already been cast in the 2012 Election, a staggering 35 percent of the projected overall turnout. So we should know who the next President is early this year, right? Not so fast, say political commentators.

"Have a couple of cups of coffee," CBS News Director of Elections Anthony Salvanto said. "I don't think we'll know the winner [in Iowa, which is key] for a while, especially if it ends up as close as it looks right now - that could be hours," he said, predicting a tiny one- or two-point gap between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the swing states.

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The final CNN/Opinion Research poll before the election, released late Sunday, shows a deadlocked race. President Obama and Mitt Romney each had 49-percent support. Between the razor-thin margins and the fact that many Tri-State voters were displaced by Hurricane Sandy news anchors and politicians are bracing themselves for a long night.

Though N.J. Gov. Chris Christie encouraged early voting among residents, he also warned the media that tallying the votes could take longer than usual. "It'll take us a little longer to count the votes this year," he said at a news conference Nov. 2 in Brick Township, "but you know, it'll probably be a late night anyway."

Additionally, many voting locations on the West Coast - including California, which is key - close at 11:00 p.m. And Alaska closes at 12:00 a.m. For a full list of poll closing times click here.

The election largely hinges on Ohio and Florida. As of 11:15 p.m. EST on Tuesday, NBC had called Ohio for Obama, projecting that Barack Obama will get four more years in office.

The votes were counted like this...

First ballot boxes are sealed and sent to a counting facility: Once the last voter has voted, the election judge at each polling place sends the sealed boxes to a central counting facility. This is usually a government office, like a city hall or county courthouse.

Then ballots arrive at the counting facility: At a centralized counting facility, certified individuals from each party watch to make sure the count is calculated fairly.

If paper ballots are still being used: In areas where paper ballots are still used, election officials go through the ballots manually and add up the number of votes in each race.

If punch card ballots are being used: Election officials open each ballot box, manually count the number of ballots cast and run the ballots through a mechanical punch card reader.

If computerized ballots are being used: With computerized voting systems the votes can be transmitted automatically to the central counting facility.

If emailed or faxed ballots are being used: Displaced N.J. voters must return their electronic ballots - by fax or email - no later than 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6. 

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