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Which states vote, what the most important rules are and what is at stake

Tuesday is the biggest day in the race for both parties’ presidential nominations — a day that political junkies have taken to calling “Super Tuesday.”

Sixteen states and one U.S. territory will hold presidential elections in some form on Tuesday. For both Republicans and Democrats, they will award more than a third of the total number of available delegates during the entire nominating contest, all in one day.

Follow live updates on Super Tuesday 2024

Here’s a guide to what to expect as voters across the country cast their ballots:

When are the polling stations open?

The first polls of the day open at 6 a.m. ET in Vermont, and the last polls close at midnight ET in Alaska. In between, here are the other most important moments to know:

  • 7:00 PM ET: Polls close for the primaries in Virginia and Vermont.

  • 7:30 PM ET: Polls close in North Carolina.

  • 8:00 PM ET: Polls close in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee and most of Texas.

  • 8:30 PM ET: Polls close in Arkansas.

  • 9:00 PM ET: Polls close in Colorado, Minnesota and the rest of Texas.

  • 11:00 PM ET: Polls close in California and in the Republican caucuses in Utah.

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Who can vote?

That depends on the state. Certain states have different rules for nominating contests. Here are three of the most common:

  • Open: Voters can choose which primary they want to vote in regardless of their registration (in many cases, these states also do not ask voters to register by party). Of Tuesday’s Republican elections, Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, Texas, Virginia and Vermont will hold open primaries.

  • Partially opened: These contests are generally limited to members of the party, as well as unaffiliated voters. In some cases, voters are considered to be registered with a party if they cast ballots during those primaries, at least for the remainder of the election cycle. The primaries in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Tennessee are partially open.

  • Closed: Voters must be registered with a party to vote in the primaries or caucus. The contests in Alaska, California, Oklahoma and Utah fall on the GOP side in this category.

What’s at stake on the Republican side?

For all the attention paid to the early nominating contests, those early states awarded only 11% of the total delegates in the Republican presidential nominating contest.

There are 865 Republican delegates at stake in the Super Tuesday GOP nominating contests. That’s about 36% of all delegates in the entire race.

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Once all delegates from Super Tuesday and the previous contests have been allocated, more than 47% of delegates will have been awarded. And after the four matches on March 12, more than 50% of the delegates will have been rewarded.

Are the competitions winner-take-all or proportional?

Although Republican National Committee rules do not allow most states to hold true winner-take-all contests before March 15, many Super Tuesday states will become de facto winner-take-all states due to head-to-head competition. character of the race.

Five states will award every delegate they have to a majority vote winner: California, Maine, Massachusetts, Utah and Vermont. Tennessee awards all its delegates to one candidate if he or she wins two-thirds of the vote. Minnesota awards all its delegates to one candidate if he or she wins 80% of the vote.

Five other states—Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia—award all their statewide delegates (at-large delegates) to a candidate who wins a majority of votes, then individually hand out congressional district delegates. A candidate who captures the majority of a district wins all three congressional district delegates.

In all these states, delegates are awarded proportionately if no candidate receives a majority.

And in other cases, all available delegates are allocated proportionately.

What is the GOP’s ‘magic number’?

The Republican nominee will be the candidate who brings the majority of the party’s delegates to the national convention, or 1,215 of the 2,429 delegates.

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What should I know about the Democratic side?

You don’t need to know much about the Democratic elections, because President Joe Biden is by far the favorite in all elections.

Unlike the Republican side, Democrats always award delegates in each state proportionately to candidates who meet a 15% threshold. So it’s possible that one of Biden’s opponents wins some delegates to the convention based on the results (or, like what happened in Michigan, wins “uncommitted” delegates).

Are Democratic superdelegates still a thing?

Yes, but their power has diminished significantly since 2016.

Only ‘pledged delegates’, those won based on the results of the nominating contests, can vote for the nominee (who have delegates) on the first ballot promised to cast their votes for the candidates they were assigned to, and those candidates’ campaigns play a major role in selecting the promised delegates).

They can still support any candidate they want. But the only ways superdelegates will get votes for the nominee at the convention are if:

  • A presidential candidate has secured the required number of pledged delegates and there is no doubt about the outcome. That way, superdelegates can technically cast their votes for the party’s presumptive nominee without putting their thumbs on the scale.

  • No candidate has secured the required number of pledged delegates and the race moves on to the next ballots in a contentious convention. The superdelegates cannot vote on the first ballot, but they become free to vote on subsequent ballots.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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