Are You Ready for Election Night? How to Watch, When to Watch, and What to Look For

A quick and simple guide to watching the election results tonight.

By Liberty McArtor Published on November 8, 2016

After enduring months of an election season like no other, we’re just hours away from witnessing the election of the 45th President of the United States. Regardless of who wins, it will be a historic moment for America. Are you ready for the big night?

Whether you plan to spend election night hunkered on your couch or partying with friends, here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know as we witness the beginning of America’s next chapter.

Where to Get Live Election Results

1. TV! All major news networks will be covering the election results life, including Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.

2. Online! Don’t have TV or cable? No problem. You can also get live updates online:

  • Keep track of the electoral votes as polls close with interactive maps from Fox News or Politico.
  • CNN will be live streaming election coverage for free.
  • NBC News will also be living streaming election coverage via multiple websites, including YouTube. Click here for details.

Don’t have time to stare at your laptop screen all evening? You can also use Google at any time to get live updates. All you have to do is Google “election results” to see the latest. Read more about how Google plans to keep you posted.

3. Smartphone Apps and Facebook Messenger! Check out this helpful post from USA Today and see numbers 3 and 4 for news apps and Facebook messenger bots that will send live election results to your phone’s home screen or to your Facebook Messenger app.

When We’ll See Election Results

Other than Dixville Notch, New Hampshire where polls closed per tradition shortly after 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time this morning (Hillary Clinton won by two votes), the first polls to close today will be in Indiana and Kentucky, at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

The last polls to close tonight will be those of the West Coast at 1:00 a.m. Wednesday Eastern Time. View a complete list of state poll closing times here via Politico.

Typically the winner of the presidential election is announced near midnight. However, if the race is extremely close, if there are technical problems with electronic ballots, accusations of voter fraud, or demands for recounts, the results could be announced hours later.

It will take 270 electoral votes for either candidate to win. In the event of an electoral tie, where two candidates get stuck at 269 electoral votes, the ultimate decision would come down to Congress. This is in line with the Constitution’s 12th Amendment and has happened before. Read more here from Constitution Daily.

What People Are Predicting — And What States Matter Most

Election analyst and FiveThirtyEight editor Nate Silver is predicting a probable Clinton victory. But Democracy Institute — the only organization to correctly predict the Brexit vote in July —is predicting a Donald Trump victory, Breitbart reports.

There is no way to predict the results with certainty, but one thing is certain: the outcome of certain swing states will make it or break it for the White House hopefuls. Both campaigns have been hard at work in key swing states in recent days, and America will be paying special attention to these states on election night, according to the Financial Times:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia

Final Recommendations

Whatever the results, it’s sure to be an exciting — and perhaps surprising — night. So here are a few final tips for making the most of election night 2016:

  • Get comfortable — even if the results are announced “on time,” it will be a long night as votes roll in from coast to coast.
  • Grab your favorite beverage/snack combo — whether you plan to reach for comfort food, celebration fare or both, something yummy to munch or sip on makes anything more palatable.
  • Check out this article from The Stream’s Anika Smith on hope, encouragement, and how to make a difference even after Election Day.
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