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Guide For The Day: An Election Day Timeline

The finish line is in sight as voters make their final decisions on Election Day. Here's a guide to key times of the day across the nation. Stay with NPR throughout the day as we follow the presidential race and key battles that will determine control of the House and Senate.

Join NPR to hear live coverage, which begins at 8 p.m. EST on NPR.org and many member stations.

For updates, check in to NPR's digital election headquarters, which includes an election night live blog starting at 6 p.m. EST, as well as electoral projections. All times are listed in Eastern Standard Time.

Poll Openings:

6 a.m.: The first polls open on Election Day in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Virginia. With 13 electoral votes, the swing state of Virginia is a key East Coast prize in the presidential race.

6:30 a.m.: Polls open in Ohio. Expect a floodgate of attention to surround this battleground state where the presidential candidates have invested enormous resources into winning its 18 electoral votes.

7 a.m.: The polls begin to open in Florida along with several states on the East Coast and across the Midwest, including GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's home state of Massachusetts, and in Illinois where President Obama voted in Chicago last month.

8 a.m.: Polls begin to open in Western states with the final state polls opening in Alaska at 11 a.m. and Hawaii at 12:00 p.m.

Poll Closings:

7 p.m.: Polls in Indiana and Virginia close. Both states offer the earliest glimpse of the night to come. Virginia is likely to be the first battleground state to be called, and Indiana's Senate race is considered a must-win if the GOP is to have any chance of winning majority control of the upper chamber.

7:30 p.m.: All eyes are on Ohio as its polls close. Obama can win the night without Ohio, but Romney's path to the White House would be much steeper if he doesn't take the Buckeye State. Polls also close in North Carolina, where the GOP has opportunities for gains in the House.

8 p.m.: Key states closing are Florida and New Hampshire. Both states have been closely fought, and both are highly prized, but Florida with its 29 electoral votes is the biggest tossup state of the night. Illinois has a key House race to watch, which could hold the best opportunity for Democrats to pick up seats. Massachusetts, Missouri and Connecticut also close, all with important Senate races to watch.

9 p.m.: A batch of battleground states close their polls: Colorado, Wisconsin and Arizona. Together they account for 30 electoral votes. In addition, Wisconsin and Arizona, along with Nebraska and North Dakota, which close their polls at the same time, have high-profile Senate races.

10 p.m.: Iowa and Nevada are the final presidential swing states to close. Nevada and Montana both hold important Senate races, while Utah is holding a closely watched congressional race.

11 p.m.: California's polls close. This is the point at which the picture will begin to become clear about who is winning the battle for the White House. Polls also close in Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Final polls close in Alaska at 1:00 a.m.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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