US Presidential Election 2020: TV guide
Presidential election night has historically been the US news media’s night of nights. It’s a blockbuster news event that reporters and television hosts build up for months, and according to the script, should end in the wee small hours when one person is declared the president of the United States.
But the 2020 election between US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will be different. Nearly every state in the country anticipates a radical increase in voters casting their ballots by mail to stay safe amid COVID-19. This will change the speed at which votes are counted - with some states not allowed to start counting the mailed votes until Election Day.
As of Saturday, more than 90 million Americans have already cast ballots, according to a tally on Saturday from the US Elections Project at the University of Florida, setting the stage for the highest participation rate in over a century.
It’s very possible a victor won’t be declared on November 3 in the US which will be Wednesday November 4 Australian time. But we can watch it all unravel on our screens regardless.
Here is where and when you can watch Election Night coverage and what’s likely to happen...
When is the 2020 US presidential election Australian time?
Coverage will start in Australia from 5:00am AEDT Wednesday November 4 with many networks offering official US Election Night coverage from 11:00am AEDT.
Where can I watch the US presidential election?
Most Australian free-to-air TV channels are offering election coverage.
Nine’s ‘9News Early Edition’ will start at 5:00am AEDT followed by ‘Today’ which will run a special extended show. The formal US election coverage starts at 11:00am and will be hosted by Peter Overton and Nine’s political expert and former US correspondent, Charles Croucher.
You can watch the ABC’s coverage on the ABC NEWS Channel or iView. Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland in Washington DC for a special US Election edition of ′News Breakfast’ from 6:00am AEDT.
From 10am AEDT, Ellen Fanning, Stan Grant and David Speers will have continuous coverage as the day unfolds, with Antony Green providing state by state results and analysis, plus Casey Briggs examining the impact of COVID-19 on the election and Jeremy Fernandez exploring some of the big issues of the Trump presidency.
Channel 10 has partnered with CBS News in the US to bring expert opinions an analysis live on ’10 News First’ from 11.00am AEDT
Up-to-the-minute polling results and coverage on 7NEWS begins Wednesday with an extended edition of ‘Sunrise’ live from 5:30am AEDT, with Kochie and Sam live to Natalie Barr in Washington, DC.
Michael Usher and Angela Cox, Seven’s former US Correspondent of seven years who has covered two US elections, for all-day live rolling coverage from 10am AEDT. They’ll cross to 7NEWS US Bureau Chief Ashlee Mullany from inside Donald Trump’s camp and US Correspondent Tim Lester on the campaign trail with Joe Biden.
SBS is offering a US Election 2020 special news event from 11am – 4pm AEDT.
Peter Stefanovic, Chris Kenny, Joe Hockey, Rita Panahi, James Morrow, Annelise Nielsen, The Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine and The Australian’s Cameron Stewart will lead SKY News’ coverage from 5:00am AEDT.
TV coverage will continue into the evening as it’s almost certain we won’t know who would have won on the day.
What is happening with the absentee ballot votes?
An unprecedented number of mail ballots cast means a huge number of mail ballots to count, a more time-consuming process than counting in-person votes.
State and county election officials in key swing states were already asking for more money to speed the processing of an anticipated uptick in absentee ballots before the pandemic made in-person voting less safe.
Another issue that will cause delays in the reporting of mail-in ballots is when they can be opened and counted. Some states, like Michigan, law requires election officials to only open and count them on Election Day. Other states, including swing states like Arizona, Florida and North Carolina, allow absentee ballots to be opened and counted before Election Day.
Unless it’s a landslide victory for either Trump or Biden, the rise in absentee voting makes it unlikely that election night in America will be a decision night for broadcast networks, cable news or digital outlets so expect to not know the winner on Wednesday November 4.
Who will call the election result
While many media outlets call out results as they get information coming in, the Associated Press (AP) is widely seen as a reliable source when it calls the result.
AP has local reporters across all 50 states in the US who collect votes at a local level, plus it also gathers results from state or county websites and online data feeds.
These stringers then phone in results to a vote entry clerk in one of AP’s ‘Vote Entry Centers’. From there a dedicated vote entry clerk keys in the results, before plenty of checks and verifications are performed.
AP says it was 99.8% accurate in calling US races in 2016, and 100% accurate in calling the presidential and congressional races for each state.
When AP announced Trump’s victory in 2016, the election results had been officially called.
Paul Blumenthal from HuffPost US contributed to this report