Election Day is almost upon us, which means that American only have to hang on for a little bit longer until they find out who the next president will be. Of course, we have to get through Election Day itself first, before anyone will officially know the outcome and be able to either cry themselves to sleep or party into the night. If you're trying to get specific about the actual end game to this show-down, you'll want to know when the polls close on Election Day, and unfortunately for all you meticulous planners out there, those times varies from state to state. It's not like New Year's Eve, when we can all count down until a specific time, pop a bottle of champagne, and celebrate the end of what has been a very wild, tumultuous, and downright nerve-wracking presidential race.
In some states, polls close as early as 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. EST, like Kentucky and Indiana. Others, like Alaska for example, don't shut their doors until 1 a.m. EST, so if you plan on staying up until the very, very end, break out the coffee. You can check out this great interactive map that shows exactly when each state closes the polls and make sure you'll have enough time to run to your polling place in advance.
There's an interesting catch when it comes to timing this year since there are some key battleground states that each candidate has to take to ensure they get all of the 270 electoral votes needed to win. This year, North Carolina and Pennsylvania are crucial for both candidates. If one of the candidates takes both of those states, it might be possible to predict the overall winner early on. If one candidate takes one of them and loses the other, it's going to be a nail-biter.
Early voting in North Carolina is already veering towards a Democratic win, but there's still time, so don't get too emotional just yet. Luckily, those states close the polls at 7 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. ET, so it could be an early night, as long as the political analysts guesses are correct. Florida is always a key state, and they close at 7 p.m. ET, too. Early voting there shows that 28 percent of registered Republicans voted for the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
This is where things can get a little bit crazy. First of all, it's important to remember that the process by which news organizations call the state varies and you usually have to pay attention to a little number on the corner of the screen that shows how many of the votes are actually calculated and verified.
It's usually done estimating — so if a state has 75 percent of votes counted, and it's already a landslide for either candidate, a news organization will usually make the call based on simple math, trusted sources like the Associated Press, and the likelihood of certain counties going either blue or red.
With less than a week left, the election is very close already, and it's looking more and more like it's going to be a long, tense Election Day and night. Make sure you bring snacks.