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Process of a Presidential Election

By Iman Kagimu

Edited by Aleyna Doche

With the 2020 Presidential Election coming up in fall, it's essential to know how to elect a president. For a person to run for the presidential office, they must meet three requirements. A candidate needs to be a U.S. citizen from birth, at least 35 years old, and has lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years. Candidates are split between the current two main political parties, Democrats and Republicans. The candidates have to campaign and raise funds across the country and compete to win their party's nomination.

Each state either has a Primary or a Caucus, where a decision is made to be the party's candidate. In a Primary, there is a voting process where all eligible voters/citizens can cast a secret ballot for their preferred candidate choice. There are two types of Primaries, closed and open. In an open Primary, all the registered voters can vote for any candidate they want, regardless if they are a Democrat or Republican. In a closed Primary, the registered voters can only vote for candidates of the party they are registered in. Primaries are more common because the process of voting is direct. As of 2020, Nevada, Kentucky, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Iowa are the only states with a Caucus, as do American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. In a Caucus, there is a meeting arranged on a specific day and time. People vote by raising their hands or breaking into small groups based on their choice of candidate. Only registered voters can attend, and they might have to vote according to the party they are registered with, depending on the election type and their state.

Then the National Convention occurs usually in July or August, where the political parties select one nominee to stand by. Voting in the Primaries and Caucuses is very crucial, because you're deciding your political party's nominee. At the National Convention, the party's Presidential nominee usually announces their Vice President pick. Then until November, the Presidential candidates continue to campaign across the country to win support. On election day, which is the first Tuesday of November, every eligible registered voter casts their vote in the U.S. The process of voting is different in the U.S. from other countries. In the U.S., the President is not chosen directly by the people, instead of a group of officials called the "electors." When people cast their vote on election day, they are voting for the "electors." The number of electors per state is determined by the number of Senators plus the number of representatives in Congress, totaling to 538 electors. Each state or party does it slightly differently, but electors are chosen through a popular vote in the Spring or Summer of the election year, they are usually "loyal or consistent party members." Voting for electors is crucial because you want to make sure you can rely on them to vote for what you want. Each elector casts one vote, and for a Presidential candidate to win, they need 270 or more votes to win. On January 20 of the following year, the elected President officially enters their role as the leader of the United States.

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