Donald Trump and Joe Biden are spending the final hours of the US election race pitching to voters in key states that could decide who the next president is.
President Trump is visiting North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, while Joe Biden campaigns in Pennsylvania and Ohio – all battleground states.
National polls suggest a healthy lead for Mr Biden in Tuesday’s election.
But his lead is narrower in the handful of states that could decide the result.
More than 96 million people have already cast their ballots in early voting, putting the country on course for its highest turnout in a century.
In the US election, voters decide state-level contests rather than an overall single national one.
To be elected US president, a candidate must win at least 270 votes in what’s called the electoral college. Each US state gets a certain number of votes partly based on its population and there are a total of 538 up for grabs.
This system explains why it’s possible for a candidate to win the most votes nationally – like Hillary Clinton did in 2016 – but still lose the election.
Tuesday’s vote comes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The US has recorded more cases and more deaths than any other country worldwide, reporting more than 81,000 new infections on Sunday alone.
As the nation counts down the hours to the vote, there are fears that pockets of post-election violence could break out. Businesses in the nation’s capital Washington DC and in New York City have been seen boarding up their premises due to concerns about unrest.
Meanwhile, the FBI says it is investigating after a convoy of vehicles with Donald Trump flags surrounded a bus carrying Mr Biden’s campaign staff on a Texas highway last week.
Where are Biden and Trump on campaign’s final day?
After a punishing schedule of rallies in six states on Sunday, President Trump is hurrying through four more battleground states on Monday.
In North Carolina, he told supporters that “next year will be the greatest economic year in the history of our country”. The rally was postponed from Thursday due to Hurricane Zeta.
He touted numbers that he says “nobody even thought possible”.
The US economy saw record-breaking 33% growth in the third financial quarter of this year, following a record 31% contraction in the second. But economists warn the damage inflicted by the pandemic – the biggest decline in the US economy in more than 80 years – could still take years to overcome.
After North Carolina, Mr Trump heads to Scranton, Pennsylvania, the city where his opponent was born and raised before moving to Delaware as a 10-year-old child.
Mr Biden is also going to Pennsylvania where he will be joined by singer Lady Gaga at a rally in Pittsburgh. Musician John Legend will address voters with vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
At a last-minute campaign stop in Ohio, Mr Biden repeated the core message of his campaign, telling voters that the race was about the soul of America. He said it was time for Mr Trump to “pack his bags”, saying “we’re done with the tweets, the anger, the hate, the failure, the irresponsibility”.
The race in Ohio is extremely tight. In 2016, Mr Trump won by more than eight points – currently, he has a 0.2% lead over Mr Biden, according to an aggregate of polls by RealClearPolitics.
Mr Trump will later go to Traverse City, Michigan, followed by Kenosha, Wisconsin – a city roiled by racial justice protests after the police shooting of a black man.
He then returns to Grand Rapids, Michigan for his last rally of the campaign.
On Sunday the candidates attacked each other on two of this campaign’s key themes – Covid-19 and racial tension.
Are we going to get a result on election night as usual?
It can take several days for every vote to be counted after any US presidential election, but it’s usually pretty clear who the winner is by the early hours of the following morning.
In 2016, Donald Trump took to the stage in New York at about 03:00 local time to give his victory speech in front of a crowd of jubilant supporters.
But don’t set your alarm clocks just yet. Officials are already warning that we may have to wait longer – possibly days, even weeks – for the result this year because of the expected surge in postal ballots. The last time the result wasn’t clear within a few hours was in 2000, when the winner wasn’t confirmed until a Supreme Court ruling was made a month later.
Different states have different rules for how – and when – to count postal ballots, meaning there will be large gaps between them in terms of reporting results. In some states it will take weeks to get complete results.
On Sunday, a report by news site Axios said Mr Trump would declare victory on Tuesday night if it looked as if he was ahead.
Mr Trump denied the report, but said that counting ballots after election day was a “terrible thing”.
Meanwhile, Mr Biden vowed to stop the Trump “stealing” the election.
How do the candidates differ in what they are offering?
The two rivals have radically different policies on several key issues.
On the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Trump set up a task force in January which he says has now shifted its focus to “safety and opening up our country”. The president is also prioritising the speedy development of Covid treatments and vaccines, directing $10bn towards such projects.
Mr Biden wants to set up a national contact-tracing programme, establish at least 10 testing centres in every state, and provide free coronavirus testing to all. He supports a nationwide mask mandate, which would require face coverings to be worn on federal property.
On climate change, Mr Trump, being a sceptic, wants to expand non-renewable energy, and he has committed to withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord.
Mr Biden says he would immediately re-join the Paris deal, and he also wants the US to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
On the economy, Mr Trump has pledged to create 10 million jobs in 10 months, as well as one million new small businesses. He wants to deliver an income tax cut, and provide companies with tax credits to incentivise them to keep jobs in the US.
Mr Biden wants to raise taxes for high earners to pay for investment in public services, but says the increase will only impact those earning over $400,000 a year. He supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15.
Courtesy BBC News