Historic US polls open 12 noon Nigerian time

Tuesday’s historic United States elections will open at 6:00 a.m. (12 noon Nigerian time) and end at 7 p.m. (1:00 a.m. Wednesday Nigerian time), the Department of Elections, State of Virginia, said.

The Commissioner, Mr Edgardo Cortes, told the correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the U.S. that the elections include the presidential and congressional, while other states also have local elections.

No fewer than 20 states are also expected to elect governorship candidates in Tuesday’s polls seen by many as the most unusual and most unpredictable in recent history.

NAN, however, reports that voters in a New Hampshire hamlet, Dixville Notch kicked off voting and residents of the hamlet cast their votes at midnight.

Out of the six votes cast, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump four votes to two, while Libertarian Gary Johnson received one vote, and Mitt Romney received a surprise write-in ballot, according to USA Today.

A New Hampshire law allows communities with fewer than 100 voters to open their polls at midnight and close them as soon as all registered voters have cast their ballots.

Cortes said the results of all the elections would be online for anyone to see and use before the end of Tuesday.

“We open the results online and anyone can see and use it. There is no press conference or any official to announce the result and declare any candidate the winner.

“We update our website once every 10 minutes and you can go online to get it,” he said.

The elections commissioner explained that elections results were expected to be posted online as soon as they were transmitted from the election districts.

Cortes, however, said that all results that would be posted online would remain provisional until the electoral board in each of the 50 states meets on Nov. 19, 2016 to certify the results.

According to him, the provisional results are usually not significantly different from the certified results.

In the unlikely event that a candidate alleged rigging, the commissioner said that “a candidate does not head to the tribunal but petitions the State Congress’’.

Cortes, however, said that allegations of rigging had never happened in the history that he remembered.

“Case of rigging has never happened and it does not come up in our electoral system because it has been tested and it is a professional-run process and we don’t run into those issues.”

He said electoral officials, who are members of Republican and Democratic parties appointed by judges at the local level and by the state governor at the state level, cross-checked the figures.

According to him, cross-checking the ballots and the tally with the figures usually take one week to ensure that any mistake is corrected.

Cortes also ruled out fears of hacking of the system, saying that it is not internet-transmitted and could not be hacked into.

NAN reports that about 200 million Americans are expected to vote in a heated election that has two leading presidential candidates, Democratic Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

The U.S. president is elected by Electoral College made up of 538 electors as against popular vote and to be elected president, a candidate must win 50 per cent plus one (51 per cent) electoral vote.

Each of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, has a certain amount of Electoral College votes to award a candidate, based on the number of members of Congress it has.