The 2016 U.S. presidential election has been one of the most divisive in history, but there's one thing almost everyone can agree on: we're all more than ready for it to be over. We've nearly made it to Election Day now, and there's some good news for those counting down to when the presidential election results will be announced, because it could happen earlier than ever before. Imagine going to bed at a reasonable hour, sleeping peacefully with the knowledge that your candidate won... Or perhaps getting an early jump on those plane tickets to Canada, if things go the other way. In either case, it'll be nice to know early.
There are two reasons we can expect to see early results. The first is that nearly three-quarters of states now allow early voting, and, according to Bloomberg, that means that up to 40 percent of votes could already be in before Election Day. With most polls opening very early in the morning, the majority of votes could be in before dinner time, meaning that celebratory glass of champagne or tumbler of misery wine might be timed well before cocktail hour. Voters can learn where and when to vote through Google's interactive widget.
In elections past, the press has abided by a long-held agreement not to call the presidential race until the last polls close on the West Coast, meaning those on the East Coast had to slog through a long night of animated maps and pointless man-on-the-street interviews before they could finally find out who won at 11 p.m. Eastern Time. This self-imposed gag order came in 1980, after the networks called the election for Ronald Reagan before polls closed in California. Reports of people leaving the polls without voting followed, and the presidents of ABC, NBC, and CBS were summoned before Congress and accused of affecting the outcome of the election, according to The New York Times. Such accusations turned out to be unsubstantiated, but journalists have agreed to keep mum on early exit polling ever since.
This year, however, a new app called Votecastr will use a combination of analytics and live voter turnout tracking in an attempt to collect real-time election results in key battleground states, which will be reported by Slate live as data comes in. While election coverage blackouts are required by law in some democracies, there's no such requirement in the United States, and some argue that not only is live reporting unlikely to discourage voters, it may actually spur more citizens to the polls. While it can be disappointing to realize that your vote doesn't count as much as you thought it did, we've all been through it before, and we'll no doubt go through it again. At least this year, we can all get a good night's sleep afterwards.