Nov. 3 was election day in the United States. While voters cast ballots in state and local races, considered dozens of referendums and selected every representative and one-third of the senators, all eyes were focused on the presidential contest. Hopes and anxieties rested on a simple question: Would Donald Trump win a second term as president?

As many anticipated, 48 hours after the polls closed, the answer remains unknown. Blame a pandemic that prompted historic numbers of voters to cast early ballots — more than 100 million across the country. Blame a postal service creaking under the weight of unprecedented numbers of mail-in ballots. Blame a patchwork of rules and procedures that in some cases prevents early counting of those votes. Blame some combination of the three for creating legal challenges as authorities tried to cope with those exceptional circumstances. And, finally, blame intense divisions in the United States that have produced elections that are decided by fractions of a percentage point of turnout.

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