With a puff of black smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney on Tuesday afternoon, the Roman Catholic Church's College of Cardinals signaled they haven't decided on the new pope on the first day of the papal conclave.
The smoke appeared at 2:41 p.m. U.S. Eastern time.
The church's 115 cardinals will meet again Wednesday morning to vote again on the new pope. A cardinal needs at least 77 votes to become pope. There will be up to four votes per day until a pope is elected.
Depending on when the winning vote is taken, white smoke will arise from the Sistine Chapel at 5:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. in Italy), 7 a.m. (noon in Italy), 12:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. in Italy) or 2 p.m. (7 p.m. in Italy). If no pope was elected, black smoke will arise from the chapel's chimney at 7 a.m. (noon in italy) and 2 p.m. (7 p.m. in Italy). All times are estimates based prior papal elections and predictions from the Vatican. Actual times can vary.
The new pope has to accept the position before white smoke is released. If smoke is released at night as it was on Tuesday, the Sistine Chapel chimney will be lit up so onlookers can see the smoke.
If there's no election by Friday, cardinals will pause on Saturday for a day of reflection and prayer. The voting would continue in that pattern (three days of voting with a one-day break) until the 34th voting round. Then there would be a runoff between the top two candidates.
When a pope is chosen and white smoke rises from the chapel, the bells of St. Peter's Basilica will ring, as they did in 2005 when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was elected. It took about 40 minutes between the white smoke and official announcement when Benedict became pope.
This year, it will be French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal deacon, who will stand on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica to shout "Habemus Papam!" ("We have a new pope!"). He'll present the new pope, who will be in white papal cassocks (three sizes are kept on reserve) and give his first blessing as pope.
BEFORE YOU GO
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more informationTrack ballot status
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place