US election day is finally here.

Donald J Trump’s upset victory over Hilary Clinton may have been just four years ago, yet it also feels like a lifetime has passed since the New York Times needle tilted dramatically, and traumatically for many, from one end all the way to the other.

The events of 2020 alone – Trump being impeached, the Covid-19 pandemic, the subsequent lockdowns and economic crashes, the Black Lives Matter movement erupting, the death and replacement of a US Supreme Court justice – would normally provide enough fodder for an entire four-year term.

But that’s what Trump’s tenure has been like: A constant stream of outrage, fake news and misinformation, polarising rhetoric, instigation of violence and one unprecedented development after another that it becomes hard to remember any of them.

Journalist Mehdi Hasan attempted to summarise the four years in two minutes:

But all of that has brought us to US Election Day 2020, with Donald Trump against former US vice president Joe Biden. Voting day itself only marks the end of an election season that seemed to begin almost as soon as Trump was elected and has seen nearly 100 million Americans vote ahead of time.

In 2016, we told you how the global media would have covered Donald Trump’s victory if it had happened in a “third-world country”. This year, Nairobi-based cartoonist and writer Patrick Gathara set the scene, using a similar premise:

Read the whole thread here.

So what’s the best way to follow along, this November 3, especially since the results are likely to be coming in late in the night – if you’re in the US – and possibly all through the next day depending on where else in the world you are?

We have a few suggestions:

When will the US election results come?

Because of the massive amount of early voting this year, as well as Trump and the Republican party’s concerted efforts to raise unfounded doubts about certain kinds of ballots, most expect the results to take longer than they normally do.

The first votes of the day, from Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, a precinct that votes at midnight, are already in.

But actual numbers will only begin coming in much later on Tuesday in the US (early morning Wednesday in India), starting at 6 pm ET, which is 11 pm GMT and 4:30 am in IST, Indian Standard Time.

At 7 pm ET (midnight GMT, 5:30 am IST) , an hour later, polls close in Florida and more vote counts will start to stream in from there as well as elsewhere on the East Coast.

At 8 pm ET (1 am GMT, 6:30 am IST) counting will begin in Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state, though most expect final results to take much longer there because of the massive number of mail-in ballots in play this time.

By 10 pm ET (3 am GMT, 8:30 am IST) results will be streaming in from Texas, Michigan, Arizona, among the main swing states, and many others. In normal years, by this time it is starting to become quite clear what the shape of the electoral college may look like, though of course this year may be considerably different.

By 11 pm ET (4 am GMT, 9:30 am IST) polls will close in the Western states of California, Oregon and Washington, bringing us much closer to the time when races are usually called, though the Trump-Clinton race was called much later in the early hours of the morning, ET.

Beyond this, it is hard to say what will happen if results are unclear. Trump’s campaign has indicated that it will seek to declare victory if it is ahead by the end of the night, even if votes are being counted across the country – in the hopes of delegitimising any subsequent numbers that go against the Republican ticket.

But if it does end up being that fractious, or if matters go to the courts as they did in 2000, then the final result could be a matter of days and weeks, not hours.

How to watch/listen to/follow the results

Although the popular American cable channels, like CNN and MSNBC might be hard to access from abroad – though a VPN may help – there are still many ways to follow the election results as they come in.

Network news broadcasts will be available on YouTube, including NBC News, ABC News and PBS Newshour.

C-SPAN, the equivalent of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV in the US, will also provide you with results and victory or concession speeches here.

For an international perspective, you could watch the livestream from Al Jazeera English. Or read the always excellent liveblog from the Guardian.

The New York Times, in addition to its liveblog, is also offering an audio option. Its award-winning podcast, The Daily, will be covering results as they come in live.

And of course, if you would like something a little more comedic, watch the livestream from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show:


Indian-Americans and India

This election is of particular interest to Indians and Indian-Americans for a several reasons.

One, the winner will have to chart out how to approach a rising, aggressive China, a challenge that has many potential consequences for India.

Two, an Indian-American is in the race for the first time, with Kamala Harris – whose mother migrated to the US from India in the 1950s – contesting as the vice-presidential candidate for the Democrats. If her ticket does win, Harris will be expected by many to run for president as the Democratic candidate in four years time.

Three, this election has seen the influence of the Indian-American community grow by leaps and bounds compared to earlier decades, with larger amounts of money donated and bigger scrutiny of their electoral choices. How they ultimately vote will tell us a lot about the community and its political preferences.

For background on all of these, read our recent pieces on Scroll Global, a section for Indians abroad: