Understanding the US Presidential election process, how the President is elected?

Ankit Kumar
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us presidential election process
US President Donald Trump

Know the whole process of US Presidential election


The United States of America will soon see the Presidential election in which the present President and Republican candidate Donald Trump will take on Democrat Party’s candidate Joe Biden. As we near the election date, let’s look at the US Presidential election process to understand how the United States President is elected. There is a popular belief or misinformation in the world that the American voters directly elect their President. Actually, when citizens vote, they vote for their electors who then choose between  the presidential candidates.

A President is elected every four years unlike the Indian Prime Minister, who is elected for 5 years. The eligibility for a Presidential candidate is that they must be at least 35 years of age, born in the US and lived in the US for the last 14 years. Generally, candidates make their intention to run for President a year early from the election. There is no national authority to conduct the election, like the Election commission of India in our country. Local authorities organize the election with the help of administrators across the 50 states of the country.

Read more: Things you should know about Presidential candidates of the US election 2020

The US presidential election process can be divided into five parts-

1. Primaries and Caucuses

2. National Conventions

3. Election Campaigning

4. General Election

5. Electoral College

Primaries and caucuses

The election process starts with the primaries and caucuses at the start of the year. Primaries are organized by the local and state authorities using a secret ballot to cast votes for hopeful candidates from each of the main political parties.

Political parties organize private events, caucuses, where voters decide which candidate they prefer. Later, organizers count the votes to know how many delegates each candidate receives. Delegates are the representatives of their state in the national party convention, who vote to decide each party’s presidential candidate.

There are two types of delegates – Pledged Delegates and Un-pledged or Super Delegates. Pledged delegates have to support the presidential candidate whom, they were assigned in a primary or caucus. Un-pledged delegates can choose freely which candidate they want to support.

National conventions

National conventions are held in the summer of an election year for each party. The candidate which gets the majority of votes, receives the nomination for the party. Generally, it is known before the national convention takes place. Parties announce who will be their presidential candidate. The running mate (Vice-President) nominee is also voted in the national convention.

General Election campaigning

Once the nominee for all the political parties are selected, the presidential candidates go for campaigning across the country. Debates and rallies are organized to win the support of the voters. The campaign gives the candidate a chance to explain their plans and views to their country.

Electoral College

Voters go to the polling place to cast their vote on Election Day. The voters elect the President and Vice President of their own choice indirectly as both are chosen by electors through the Electoral College process. Now, when the electors are chosen in all the 50 states, they gather in December to vote for the President. The candidate which wins the majority (at least 270 electors) of votes in the electoral college, becomes the President.

In simple words, when the voters will go to vote on November 3 for the 2020 US Presidential Election, they won’t be choosing Donald Trump or Joe Biden. They will be choosing electors.

Inauguration Day

The Inauguration Day is held on 20th January at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C in presence of thousands of people. The Vice President is sworn-in first, followed by the President after reciting the oath of office.

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