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Congrats, You've Made It To Election Day! Here's What To Expect

Here's what to watch for and when to watch for it.

Posted on November 8, 2016, at 5:01 a.m. ET

It has been one year, seven months, and sixteen days since the first major candidate announced his run for president, plunging us all into this eternal, stressful, and surreal campaign season. Today*, it ends.

*Election ending today not guaranteed. 😬
Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty Images

*Election ending today not guaranteed. 😬

It'll be a long day and night. Here's the deal:

Here's what you need to know about voting

* Use our guide to find your polling place and any requirements. Thirteen states — Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, New York, and Virginia — don't have early voting, and most of those people will hit the voting booths for the first time today.* Important: Here are the rules for voting booth selfies. (It's illegal in 18 states! That's Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.) * And here's a neat gizmo BuzzFeed News made to determine if your county can predict the election outcome. 🔮
Joshua Lott / AFP / Getty Images

* Use our guide to find your polling place and any requirements. Thirteen states — Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, New York, and Virginia — don't have early voting, and most of those people will hit the voting booths for the first time today.

* Important: Here are the rules for voting booth selfies. (It's illegal in 18 states! That's Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.)

* And here's a neat gizmo BuzzFeed News made to determine if your county can predict the election outcome. 🔮

The map. The Electoral College. Choose your own adventure.

BuzzFeed News is doing something a bit unconventional this year: We're being upfront about the states that Trump and Clinton are expected to win based on voting history and polling. A candidate needs 270 Electoral College votes to win — the above map pretty much shows where they're starting.From there, check out this interactive map, which will let you play around and see each candidate's path to 270.BuzzFeed News will be watching a few of the all-important swing states tonight, but these four will be key to the evening: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. If Clinton takes Florida, she'll likely be in very good shape. If Trump wins, that's a good indicator we'll have a close race.
Ben King / BuzzFeed News

BuzzFeed News is doing something a bit unconventional this year: We're being upfront about the states that Trump and Clinton are expected to win based on voting history and polling. A candidate needs 270 Electoral College votes to win — the above map pretty much shows where they're starting.

From there, check out this interactive map, which will let you play around and see each candidate's path to 270.

BuzzFeed News will be watching a few of the all-important swing states tonight, but these four will be key to the evening: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. If Clinton takes Florida, she'll likely be in very good shape. If Trump wins, that's a good indicator we'll have a close race.

When should you start paying attention? (Or, what time should your election-watch party start?)

* At 6 p.m. ET, we are off to the races: The first polls close in Kansas.

* At 7:30 p.m. ET, polls in Ohio and North Carolina close.

* Then, at 8 p.m. ET, a massive chunk of states wrap up, including Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

* The final polls close at 12 a.m. ET in Alaska and Hawaii.

* Here is a countdown clock for each state's poll closing times.

A winner will be declared in a bunch of states as soon as their polls close. In others, it may take a bit longer. In the most contested states it'll likely take several hours. Here's a handy map showing 2016 state poll closing times compared with when the Associated Press declared winners in those states in 2012:

A cool map that shows when every state was called by @AP in 2012 election Hat tip @eliseviebeck

Remember: Just because the final polls close at 12 a.m. ET doesn't mean we won't have a winner until then.

In 2004 (George W. Bush vs. John Kerry), 2008 (Barack Obama vs. John McCain), and 2012 (Obama vs. Mitt Romney) the winner was first declared somewhere in the 11 p.m. ET hour.

Here are some things to look out for:

George Frey / Getty Images

* Evan McMullin is an Independent candidate who is campaigning hard in Utah. If he were to win there, it'd be the first time a third-party candidate won a state since 1968.

* Clinton has been campaigning in some traditionally red states — like Arizona — in hopes she can flip them.

* There's been a lot of talk about hackers somehow infiltrating electronic voting booths. That's very unlikely. US officials are more worried about the media being hacked, honestly.

* Trump has urged people to monitor polling places around the country — and some militant groups are taking up the call and are urging members to prepare for violence on Election Day.

* And there's a lot of questions about how Trump would handle things if he lost: He's called the election rigged and has said he'll support the winner only in very qualified terms. He said at a debate he's leaving us all in "suspense."

Last but not least: We've got you covered today.

* Starting at 9 a.m., we'll give you an opportunity to describe your feelings about the election in emojis — and we'll display the results on Twitter, Facebook, and our homepage.* At 6 p.m. ET, we'll kick off our live election night show on Twitter! You can watch it on desktop or on mobile. It'll be awesome, we promise.* And keep track of every development with our Live Updates post, our Twitter feed, and our Facebook feed.
BuzzFeed News

* Starting at 9 a.m., we'll give you an opportunity to describe your feelings about the election in emojis — and we'll display the results on Twitter, Facebook, and our homepage.

* At 6 p.m. ET, we'll kick off our live election night show on Twitter! You can watch it on desktop or on mobile. It'll be awesome, we promise.

* And keep track of every development with our Live Updates post, our Twitter feed, and our Facebook feed.

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