By: Muhammad Nayab Khan
The United States of America will be voting to elect its 46th President in November this year.
The Presidential elections of the most powerful democracy are observed worldwide.
This year, President Donald Trump is seeking a re-election for a second term from the Republican ticket while the Democrats have announced Joe Biden as its Presidential candidate.
The entire process to elect the US President spans over 9 to 10 months starting in February/March with voting in November and inauguration in January.Primaries and CaucusesThe first step for the political parties in the White House race is to nominate a leader for the President’s post.
In order to chose the nominee, parties first hold primaries and caucuses in different states to pick ‘delegates’ who will then go on to support the Presidential nominee.
While some states chose to hold a secret ballot (Primaries) to chose delegates others chose their delegates by a show of hands in an open meeting (caucuses).
The National Convention is a large gathering, usually held at a stadium or a big open space, of all the delegates chosen by the states during the Primaries and Caucuses. At this gathering, the delegates vote and the party announces who is going run for the Presidential elections from their party.
At this convention, voting also takes place for Vice President nominee who is also called the Running Mate.
The political parties hold their National Conventions separately. Once the Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees are announced, campaigning, rallies and televised debates begin. General Election The General Election refers to the voting process in which every US citizen who is at least 18 years of age can vote to chose the President.
Unlike in most elections, the person who becomes president is not necessarily the candidate who wins the most votes on Election Day (November 3 this year).Instead, the voting for the president of the United States takes place in two-steps.
First, voters cast ballots on Election Day in each state. In nearly every state, the candidate who gets the most votes wins the “electoral votes” for that state, and gets that number of voters (or “electors”) in the “Electoral College.” Second, the “electors” from each of the 50 states gather in December and they vote for president. The person who receives a majority of votes from the “Electoral College” becomes President.For example, in 2020 election on November 3, Americans won’t be directly voting for Joe Biden or Donald Trump.
They will be voting for the electors on November 3 who will then vote for the President in December during Electoral college.The electors are local leaders who collectively form the Electoral College.
Every party will release a list of electors ahead of November 3.Electoral College Under the Electoral College system, each state is assigned a certain number of “votes”.
There are a total of 538 electoral votes.Which state gets how many electoral votes depends on the size of its population. For example, California, the largest state of the US, has maximum number of electors at 55. Meanwhile, Alaska is the largest state of the US by area but due to low population, it has only three electors.’
The formula for determining the number of votes for each state is simple: each state gets two votes for its two US Senators, and then one more additional vote for each member it has in the House of Representatives. For California, this means that it gets 55 votes (2 senators and 53 members of the House of Representatives).These electors vote in December and have to vote twice: for President and Vice President candidates.
The candidate needs a simple majority of 270 in the electoral college to win the Presidential election. Things get tricky during Electoral College as despite a party winning maximum states on the Voting Day might lose in Electoral College.
Inauguration The role of US Congress counts the votes and officially declare the winner. This is called the Inauguration when the new President takes oath on a fixed date which is January 20.