The Presidential Election

November 24, 2020

  • Leading up to the election: People decide they want to run for president; they campaign, participate in debates, and many drop out. At the beginning of the election year, the primaries (an election with ballots) and caucuses (a town hall where voters pick a candidate) cause more candidates to drop out. In the summer, candidates pick their running mates and have conventions (such as the Democratic National Convention) where parties choose their nominees.

 

  • The Electoral College: As written in the Constitution, people don’t directly elect the president. Rather, there is an Electoral College made of 538 electors, and the number in each state is based on population. The political parties in each state choose their potential electors, and when people vote in the general election in November, they’re essentially choosing which electors they want to vote (Democratic or Republican). These electors cast votes for president in a meeting in December. However, they aren’t constitutionally obligated to vote for who won the popular vote in their state, so sometimes there are “faithless electors” who do not vote for who won the popular vote in their state. When a candidate gets over 270 votes, they win. If there’s a tie in Electoral College votes, the House of Representatives breaks the tie (this only happened once, in 1824.)

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