US Election: What time the polls close in New Zealand, state-by-state

The US is a big country that straddles several time zones, so unlike New Zealand there isn't a single point in time when the ballot boxes close.

While we had a pretty good idea in New Zealand what the result of the election would be not long after voting closed at 7pm on October 17, it could be several hours before the results in some states will even start to come through, let alone be confirmed.

Here's a guide to when to expect results from each state to arrive on Wednesday afternoon. 


Voting in six states will close at 1pm - Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and Vermont. Indiana, South Carolina and Kentucky are expected to vote for incumbent Donald Trump. Between them, they're worth 28 votes out of the Electoral College's 538. Vermont and Virginia are likely to go Joe Biden, and Georgia is a toss-up.


Three more states close the polls at 2pm - Ohio, North Carolina and West Virginia. The first two are swing states, the latter Trump country. 


Voting ends in a bunch of states at 2pm - New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Tennessee, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama and the all-important Florida, as well as Washington DC. 

Several of these are swing states that will be crucial in deciding who'll be the next President of the United States - Florida and Pennsylvania in particular. 


Arkansas closes, likely delivering another six Electoral College votes for Trump. 

Trump and Biden.
Trump and Biden. Photo credit: File


Fourteen states end voting as school gets out here in New Zealand - New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana and Texas. 

Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin are all toss-ups, and there's even been talk of a possible Biden upset in Texas.

All-up, 156 votes are on offer in states closing at 3pm. 


Another four states' voting ends at 4pm - Montana, Iowa, Utah and Nevada. Utah and Montana are likely to vote for Trump, while the other two could go either way - Nevada likely Biden, Iowa a toss-up. 


The west coast states shut the polls at 5pm - Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California. Idaho will almost certainly give its votes to Trump, the others to Biden. 


The two non-contiguous states Alaska and Hawaii will be the last to close the polls - the former likely siding with Trump, the latter Biden. 

When will we know who won? 

It's not clear. To claim victory, a candidate has to win a majority of the 538 Electoral College votes on offer - 270 or more. The popular vote is meaningless. 

TV networks and online news outlets are likely to start calling winners well before the votes have been counted, based on exit polls and in-progress counts of actual votes. 

If either of the candidates has a clear lead in several swing states, there's a chance the result could be clear sometime on Wednesday evening - but doubts remain whether Trump will accept the result, even if it shows him suffering a resounding defeat.

If it's closer, it's likely to end up taking days to finalise who the victor is - possibly even longer if it goes to court. The contentious election of 2000 wasn't decided until a Supreme Court ruling in mid-December gave the win to George W Bush, stopping a recount in Florida and declaring him the winner of the state by just 537 votes, and the Electoral College 271-266. 

Trump has hinted he won't go quietly. If he's deemed the loser, by law he will cease being President on January 20, 2021.