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Essential Politics: The election is (finally) upon us

Essential Politics: The election is (finally) upon us
(LAT)

The polls are open on the East Coast. The campaign is over. Let's all breathe a little sigh of relief as we prepare for what might come next.

I'm Christina Bellantoni. Welcome to our special election day edition of Essential Politics.

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You've read a lot over the course of this contest. From Ted Cruz's announcement as the first candidate to run on March 23, 2015 until the last person left Hillary Clinton's Philadelphia rally last night, this campaign has been through many ups, many more downs, and a few twists and turns in between.

I won't inundate you with stories from the final moments of the campaign. This probably answers all your questions.

The first polls close at 4 p.m. Pacific time. California polls close at 8 p.m. We'll have everything you could ever want right here all day and night. But wait, there's more!

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As you head to vote in California, you can look forward to our round-ups on everything we know about the important races, like this guide to California's 17 ballot propositions.

Our reporters will be on the ground in swing states, talking to voters about how this contentious election has made them feel and where the country can go from here. Check out the project.

We'll have reporters at Clinton's headquarters and with Donald Trump's team — each staging final events in New York City.

Mexico correspondent Kate Linthicum will be hanging out with Mexicans who are just as anxious as Americans to find out the presidential results, and Las Vegas-based correspondent David Montero will be at a party for long-shot candidate Evan McMullin in Utah.

Our reporters will report from swing states North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona and Florida, talking to voters about how this divisive election has made them feel and where the country can go from here.

As the results start to roll into our slick digital maps, you'll find tips on how to be an armchair pundit from our own results analyst Mike Memoli.

We've got handy guides to the states that matter most as the Democrats attempt to retake the Senate, and a close look at the most competitive congressional districts.

And here's something really special: If you register with us on latimes.com you can read and watch all of this for free all week long. Tell your friends to sign up too: latimes.com/freeweek.

Follow along with us on a special election day Trail Guide and follow @latimespolitics for news by the tweet.

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THE LAST PITCH

Cathleen Decker writes how the battle for swing-state Ohio has come down to the machines: a well-oiled Democratic presidential get-out-the-vote effort and a far more tenuous Republican one, at war with the governor and state party.

Clinton spent most of the final day before polls open courting voters in Pennsylvania and Michigan, reliably blue states that last supported a Republican in 1988. Trump's campaign says the Democratic nominee's schedule proves she's on the defense.

Prime yourself for how the evening will go with an Electoral College map refresher.

YES, HOMELESS PEOPLE VOTE

What do Los Angeles' homeless voters have to say about the presidential election? Colleen Shalby talked with five of them who shared their thoughts on what they hope the next president will accomplish.

CAMPAIGNING BY MAIL

It all ends today. California's campaigns are letting go of their tight grip on mailboxes across the state. We have been collecting political mailers during the primary and general election, and later asked readers to send us photos of the ads they received. One reader, Aaron Levinson of Woodland Hills, said he received close to 10 pounds of political mail during the primary.

Another, Peggy Scholz of Pasadena, told The Times she was dismayed by most of the mailers she saw. "The smear campaigns and the fancy flyers actually hurt the cause of the person sending them," she said in an email.

Take a look at some of the highlights from political mail sent in California this election cycle, brought to you by Allison Wisk and Christine Mai-Duc.

TODAY'S ESSENTIALS

— California ballot propositions have raked in a record $473 million in campaign cash. More than a third of the money has come from tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.

— Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders held rallies in Los Angeles and Sacramento on Monday to urge voters to support Proposition 61, a ballot measure on prescription drug pricing. But some TMZ cameras captured Sanders getting heckled as a "sellout," presumably from people disappointed he endorsed Clinton.

— California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris spent Monday hopscotching to rallies from San Diego to L.A. to drum up support for her U.S. Senate campaign and down-ballot Democrats. She started the day at UC San Diego with Doug Applegate, who told supporters one reason he was doing well against Rep. Darrell Issa was because of the Republican's allegiance with Trump.

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— Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez called on several of her congressional colleagues to help make a last-minute pitch to voters that the state's open U.S. Senate seat should go to a Latina from Southern California. Reps. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), Scott Peters (D-San Diego), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier), the candidate's sister, made the regional and racial appeal.

— We examined how deep-blue California gets little love in the presidential race.

— Bet you didn't think the presidential race could have consequences for the 2024 Olympic games.

— Matt Pearce reviews the evidence. Did Trump's staff really take away his Twitter access?

— James Comey is facing some major backlash.

— Clinton says she was unsurprised by the result of Comey's review but was "befuddled" by the most recent probe.

LOGISTICS

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Please send thoughts, concerns and news tips to politics@latimes.com.

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