US Presidential Election Process

We live in India which is the world’s largest democracy. But when we talk about Democracy,
America comes to our mind as it upholds the values of a democratic country such as liberty and
equality.

Political Nature of United States of America:

The United States of America has 50 states in it and is a representative federal democracy. It’s
a coming together Federation where there is division of powers between the government at the
centre and the states. USA is a form of Presidential system where the president is the head of
the state.

Composition of the US:

The U.S. federal government is composed of three distinct branches—legislative, executive,
and judicial branches whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the
President, and the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, respectively. The separation of
powers is designed to provide a system of checks and balances which prevent any individual or
group from gaining too much control.

Legislature (The Congress):

The US Congress decides and makes the laws that govern America. It also has the power to
impeach the President and remove them from office. The US Congress is made up of an upper
chamber, known as the Senate, and a lower chamber known as the House of Representatives
just like Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in India.

The Senate is formed of 100 senators, two for each state. It’s main role is to approve
legislations suggested by the House of Representatives. A Senate term is six years, but unlike
the presidency there is no limit to the number of terms an individual can serve.
The House of Representatives is made up of 435 voting members, with an additional six
non-voting Representatives and has the power to initiate revenue bills and to impeach officials
who are then tried in the Senate.

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Judiciary:

The US court system is made up of the Supreme Court and Federal Courts which are the state
courts for each of fifty states .

The Executive:

The President has the power to veto laws passed by Congress and nominate a cabinet which is
approved by the Senate. The president is limited to two four-year terms in office. He along with
the cabinet comprises the executive branch.

How is politics shaped in the USA?

U.S. politics are shaped by two major political parties: Democrats and Republicans. Politics are
also shaped by special interest groups, lobbyists, and the media. elections are decided between
the two major parties: Democrats and Republicans.

Why do we need to know about the USA?

The United States of America, emerging victorious after the End of The Cold War in 1990 has
been exerting hegemony in the world. Given the current multipolar world order, it is still one of
the most dominant and powerful countries of the world making its head of the State a very
powerful person. The US has a presidential system where the President of the country is the
head of the state. President Donald Trump who is the current president is the 45th president of
the USA.

How is the President elected?

The process of election of a president has many requirements and stages involved. According
to the US constitution, the requirements for being a presidential candidate are as follows:

  1.  A person has to be a natural-born citizen of the United States.
  2.  A resident of the United States for 14 years.
  3. At least 35 years of age.

The President and the Vice President are chosen by the ‘electors’ through the process of the
Electoral College and not directly by the citizens of the country. A whole lot of stages are
involved in this election process before reaching the final stage of the Electoral College.

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The Election Process:

The election procedure can be classified into 5 significant stages.

Step 1: Primaries and Caucuses
Step 2: National Conventions
Step 3: Election Campaigning
Step 4: General Election
Step 5: Electoral College.

Stage 1: Primaries and Caucuses

Political parties use Primaries and Caucuses to elect candidates for the general elections. A
primary is a state-level election where party members vote for the best candidate that will
represent them in the general election. Party candidates selected in a primary then run against
each other in a general election. There are different types of primaries in the U.S. system like
Closed primary, Semi-closed primary, Open primary and Semi-open primary.
A caucus is a substitute for a primary election to select delegates to the national party
convention. A caucus is where registered members of a political party in a city, town or county
gather to vote for their preferred party candidate and conduct other party business.

Stage 2: National Conventions

National Conventions are where a party’s nomination for president is formally announced to the
public. Once the primaries and caucuses are completed in each state, a national convention is
held. The elected delegates cast their vote for a party candidate and the candidate with the
most delegates gets the party’s nomination as Presidential candidate. Each party holds a
national convention to finalize the selection of one presidential nominee. At each convention,
the presidential candidate chooses a running-mate known as the vice-presidential candidate.

Stage 3: General Election Campaigning

Campaigning comes into picture after candidates are chosen via primaries, caucuses and
conventions where presidential candidates travel the country, explaining their views and plans
to the general population and trying to win the support of potential voters. Rallies, debates, and
advertising are a big part of general election campaigning.

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Stage 4: General Elections

After the campaigning is over, the General Elections take place most likely in November.
Who actually elects the president?
People in every state across the country vote for one president and one vice president. When
people cast their vote, they are actually voting for a group of people known as electors who are
fellow Americans. These electors are authorized constitutional members in a presidential
election and form the electoral College. An elector is a member of the electoral College who is
appointed by the states, and they are pledged to support the presidential candidate the voters
have supported.

Stage 5: Electoral College

The Electoral College elects the president of the USA. The Constitution only states that the
candidate who receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College becomes president. It
mentions nothing about the popular vote that is the vote of the people.
What is the criteria for winning the election?

To win the election, a candidate needs to secure more than 270 electoral votes. Each state gets
a certain number of electors, based on each state’s total number of representation in Congress.
If a candidate gets the most votes within a state they receive that state’s full quota of electoral
college votes. Each elector casts one electoral vote following the general election. There are a
total of 538 electoral votes and the candidate that gets more than half (270) wins the election.
What happens when no one wins a majority?

In the rare event that no candidate gets the needed 270 electoral votes, the decision would go
to the House of Representatives, who would vote to elect the new President from among the top
three candidates.

This is all about the process of election in America that one needs to know.