US Election: Five-minute guide
The US election is finally here after Donald Trump and Joe Biden have crisscrossed the country and used serious star power to encourage voters to have their say on who will be the next President.
This is a guide to what you need to know about the election:
HOW DONALD TRUMP AND JOE BIDEN COMPARE
This is everything you need to know about the two candidates side-by-side.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE VOTED ALREADY?
At least 98 million early votes have already been cast, according to the nonpartisan US Elections Project.
WHAT DO THE FINAL POLLS SAY?
The final NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday showed Biden with a 10 point national lead.
The final polls by Siena College and The New York Times showed Biden leading by between three and 11 points in four of the most competitive states.
These polls showed Biden leading by three points in Florida, four points in Arizona, six points in Pennsylvania and 11 points in Wisconsin - all states Trump won narrowly in 2016.
The final ABC News/Washington Post poll showed Trump ahead by two points in Florida but Biden winning by seven points in Pennsylvania.
The final Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Biden ahead by six points in Pennsylvania and by 10 points in Wisconsin. Biden was narrowly leading Trump in Florida and was in a dead heat in North Carolina and Arizona.
WHERE ARE THE KEY SWING STATES?
A handful of swing votes are likely to decide the election - and that's why the campaigns are focusing their final days of the campaign in states like Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
These are the six key swing states that Hillary Clinton was predicted to win but Trump took in 2016.
There are other Trump-held states, like Texas, which may also be in play.
There is a general consensus that the polls are tightening in Trump's favour in the closing days of the campaign.
TOP ISSUES FOR AMERICAN VOTERS
WHEN DO THE POLLS CLOSE?
The earliest polls opened at 6am local time - which is 10pm AEDT on November 3.
The latest poll closes at 4pm AEDT on Wednesday November 4.
WHEN WILL WE KNOW A RESULT?
Many questions remain over how soon a result will be known due to a flood of mail-in ballots and possible legal challenges. These are the issues America faces in getting a winner:
HOW THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE WORKS
It is hard to imagine two more different systems for electing a national political leader than those of Australia and the USA. Yet despite the differences, both systems can still deliver a leader who won fewer votes than his or her opponent.
HOW IS THE US PRESIDENT ELECTED?
Voting is voluntary and about 61 per cent of people voted in the 2016 election. But yes, the President can also be the person who did NOT win the most votes. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won 2.9 million more votes thanTrump, but she lost the election.
The Electoral College is a body of electors established by the United States Constitution, which forms every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president of the United States.
The Electoral College is made up of 538 "electors" from the 50 states and the District of Columbia, based on population with a bias towards the smaller states. The candidate who wins the popular vote in a particular state receives all of that state's electors. An absolute majority of at least 270 electoral votes is required to win the election.
Slim victories can deliver a large number of electors. For instance, in 2000 Democrat Al Gore won 48.38 per cent of votes nationwide compared to Republican George Bush's 47.87 per cent. Yet Mr Bush won because he got 271 electoral votes compared with 266 for Mr Gore. The winning votes came from Florida, whose 25 votes all went to Mr Bush even though he won only 537 more popular votes.
Technically, Americans on election day cast votes for electors, not the candidates themselves, although in most cases the electors' names are not on the ballot.
DO THE ELECTORS HAVE TO VOTE FOR THE CANDIDATE WHO WON THEIR STATE?
Some states technically allow a free vote but in practice the electors vote for the candidates they are pledged to. In other states, electors do not get a free vote.
Only nine electoral votes have been cast against the state's instructions by so-called "faithless" electors, and no result has been changed by it, according to the Congressional Research Service.
If the result is extremely close, a "faithless" elector could cause real trouble. The issue would probably have to be decided by the courts.
The electors are chosen by the parties before the election, often in a vote at a convention. The electors then meet in state capitals after the election to cast their votes. The results are formally declared to the Senate on 6 January. The new president is inaugurated on 20 January.
KEY MOMENTS FROM THE CAMPAIGN
HOW WILL IT AFFECT AUSTRALIA?
The outcome of this week's US election will have direct impact on Australia regardless of who emerges as victor. This is how it will impact the economy, investments, tourism, technology, defence and the environment.
HOW CAN AUSTRALIANS WATCH IT?
SKY: Sky News Australia's multi-platform coverage of the US Election will begin from 5am, with on-the-ground reporters and commentators live from the US providing around-the-clock analysis on Election Day. Kieran Gilbert will spearhead the coverage, crossing to Peter Stefanovic, Annelise Nielsen and others during the day.
NINE: 9News Early Edition starts Nine's coverage from 5am, followed by Today, which will run a special extended show until 11.00am. Rolling US election coverage during the day will be hosted by Peter Overton and Charles Croucher, crossing to Chris Uhlmann in Canberra and former US correspondent, Robert Penfold. A late edition of 9News will follow the first Origin.
TEN: Studio 10, America Decides 2020 begins from 8am, before Sandra Sully and Narelda Jacobs co-host a panel of experts across rolling coverage from 11.00am. The Project at 6.30pm, will analyse the results. 10 will also collaborate with its parent US network CBS, whose coverage will be hosted by Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King in New York.
SEVEN: Sunrise kicks off Seven's coverage from 5.30am, crossing to Natalie Barr in Washington, D.C. From 10am, Michael Usher and Angela Cox will offer all-day, rolling coverage until 6pm. Usher will also host a special edition of The Latest at 10.30pm.
SBS: US Election 2020 from 11am-4pm. Live coverage of the US Election 2020 via SBS World News.
ABC: News Breakfast will begin coverage from 6am-10am, when Ellen Fanning, Stan Grant David Speers and Antony Green will provide rolling coverage and analysis. At 7pm, Leigh Sales will host a one-hour news special. At 8pm, on ABC News channel, Hamish McDonald and Julia Baird will dissect and debate the results with special guest interviews.
WHO IS ON TEAM TRUMP?
Perhaps Donald Trump's secret - and biggest - weapon, a title that was perhaps previously held by Ivanka. Wildly popular with the MAGA crowd, the former model has been introducing her husband at his many raucous rallies, even giving him a kiss on stage.
IVANKA TRUMP (SENIOR ADVISER)
Has an office on the second floor of the West Wing, with a special interest in education and women's economic empowerment. Doesn't get paid, has dad's ear.
JARED KUSHNER (SENIOR ADVISER)
Ivanka's husband, he has been accused of profiting off of nepotism but has been tasked by his father-in-law with perhaps the most difficult portfolio in the White House: solving the Middle East conflict, overseeing the US-Mexico wall, fixing the US opioid crisis and managing the COVID-19 response. It's a big job.
DONALD TRUMP JR
His dad's attack number one dog and a favourite among MAGA supporters. Loves a stoush - with anyone. Runs the Trump real estate empire with brother, Eric.
His dad's second attack dog. Executive Vice President of the Trump Organisation. Loves a Twitter stoush.
LARA TRUMP (ADVISER)
Not entirely sure what she does, but she's married to Eric Trump, which means she's a senior adviser to her father-in-law.
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (ADVISER)
In a relationship with Don Jr, so the lawyer-turned-TV-political-pundit gets a senior adviser role.
RUDY GIULIANI (DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER)
Former New York City mayor and Donald Trump's personal lawyer and confidante. Not a fan of Borat movies.
CHRIS CHRISTIE (ADVISER)
Ran against Donald Trump for the presidential nomination in 2016, but was steamrolled by the US President, and now one of his closest allies. Prepared Donald Trump for his debates against Joe Biden.
JASON MILLER (SENIOR ADVISER)
Donald Trump's chief speechwriter and man in charge of MAGA messaging.
KAYLEIGH McENANY (WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY)
Political commentator and author turned press secretary. At the front lines of Team Trump.
WHO IS ON TEAM BIDEN?
Wife of Joe Biden and a schoolteacher who has worked across high school, primary school, taught children with disabilities, and in higher education, with plans to continue teaching if her husband makes it to the White House. A major asset to her husband.
In the spotlight for often the wrong reasons, but a staunch supporter of his dad's.
The presidential challenger's one child with wife, Jill. A social worker, activist, philanthropist and fashion designer, she keeps largely out of the spotlight.
THE BIDEN GRANDKIDS
Joe Biden has six adorable grandkids who have featured in campaign ads and told the world about their granddad's love of ice-cream, which makes them pretty adorable.
A bromance for the ages and Joe Biden's BFF. Said to still give him counsel behind the scenes.
Joe Biden remains close to both Obamas. Michelle Obama regularly uses her social media presence to support the Democratic nominee (and posts music videos urging Americans to vote for him).
Fought the good fight in the primaries against Joe Biden, but fell short. Now his volunteer foreign policy adviser, a role which could be made permanent, should her former adversary win on November 3.
Wife of the late famed Republican senator from Arizona, John McCain, who was a close friend of Joe Biden. A lifelong Republican, Cindy McCain has jumped the fence to support her friend against Donald Trump.
Joe Biden's VP pick, the California lawyer and the state's former Attorney-General could be the first woman and the first female POC to make it to the White House.
Was Joe Biden's Chief of Staff from 2009-2011. Now a senior adviser, and tipped to return to the COS role should his former boss win.
HOW TO FOLLOW IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Donald Trump: @realDonaldTrump
Mike Pence: @VP
Joe Biden: @JoeBiden
Kamala Harris: @KamalaHarris
Originally published as US Election: Five-minute guide