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Your last minute guide to the US Presidential election 2016

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:45 IST

A record number of 35 million people have already voted under the early voting provision of American democratic system ahead of the presidential election, scheduled for 8 November. This number has surpassed the 2012 record when 32.3 million people exercised their franchise in advance.

However, just a week before the epic US presidential elections, a new national poll revealed that Hillary Clinton holds a slim lead over Donald Trump.

As the polls paint a close race between the Republic presidential nominee, Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, both are making their last efforts to woo the citizens before they go to the polls on Tuesday.

The electoral fight between Trump and Clinton has captured international attention, with American media describing the heated 2016 presidential election as the most unconventional in the country's history.

Who are contesting the 2016 presidential election?

Donald Trump emerged as Republican presidential standard-bearer and secured the party's 2016 nomination. Trump will face Democrat Hillary Clinton, who scripted history to become the first woman to head a major party's presidential ticket in the presidential run for the White House.

When will the poll be conducted?

After months of severe campaigning and dozens of controversies surrounding the two presidential nominees, American citizens will finally vote on 8 November 2016.

How do Americans vote?

Since local authorities conduct elections rather than a single national authority, different localities even in the same state can have different types of ballots and voting technology.

Today, very few U.S. voters mark paper ballots by putting an "X" next to a candidate's name. That's because many localities use optical systems that mechanically scan paper ballots in which voters fill in circles or connect lines. Still, others employ a wide variety of mechanised voting devices.

What is the election process?

With just two days to go for US polls, the focus is on the complex and lengthy electoral processes in the world's oldest democracy that are vastly different from how leaders are elected in India, which is the world's largest democracy. During the general election, Americans head to the polls to cast their vote for President. But the tally of those votes -the popular vote- does not determine the winner. Instead, Presidential elections use the Electoral College.

Unlike in other U.S. elections, the President and Vice President are not elected directly by the people. Instead, they're chosen by "electors" through a process called the Electoral College. To win the election, a candidate must receive a majority of electoral votes. In the event no candidate receives the majority, the House of Representatives chooses the President and the Senate chooses the Vice President. In total, there are 538 electoral votes spread across the states, and a candidate needs a majority of 270 of them to win.

When will the results be announced?

The first polling will close at around 12:00 am UK time and the election could be called by TV networks as early as 4am GMT. The polls will close in Ohio, (an important swing state), and North Carolina at 12:30 am. While the polls for Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire will close around midnight UK time. As for, Pennsylvania and Michigan the polls will close at about 1:00 am. All the polls except for Alaska will have closed by this 4am.

However, the results will be formally announced by Vice-President Joe Biden on 6 January 2017.

When will the next president take office?

The next president will take the oath of office on Inauguration Day which occurs every four years on 20 Janouary at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC. On this federal holiday, the President-elect and Vice-President-elect are sworn in and take office.

Choose wisely, America.

First published: 6 November 2016, 4:10 IST