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Steps in the US Presidential Election

Maya Pillai Nov 18, 2018
To become the President of the US, a candidate needs to win 270 out of the 538 Electoral College votes. Here is an explanation on the major steps involved in the US presidential elections.
The "US Electoral College" elects the President and the Vice-President of the United States of America indirectly. The US presidential elections are quadrennial. The election is on the 1st Tuesday of November. The 1st US presidential election was held in the year 1789, and George Washington was the 1st President of the US under the American Constitution.
The Presidential election process is clearly stated in the constitution of the United States of America. As per the constitution, a candidate should be:
  • At least thirty-five years of age at the time of nomination.
  • He/She should be a natural-born citizen of the United states.
  • The candidate should be a resident of the United States for at least fourteen years.

Steps Involved in US Presidential Elections

The modern nominating process of the presidential election was never included in the constitution of the US, but has evolved over a period of time by the political parties. Here we look at the two major steps in a US Presidential Election.

Step One

The first step in a US presidential election is the selection of the "delegates". The delegates are chosen by the various states of the US. Many of the states use "presidential primary", while some use a series of "caucuses and conventions". The process of electing candidates at the state level is done in three steps.
The delegates are chosen at local caucuses and later narrowed at district conventions. The candidates of the two major parties are finalized only at the state conventions. The delegates representing each state go to national conventions. This is the final step.
At the national conventions, the respective parties officially announce their candidates. The presidential candidate chooses his running mate (vice-presidential candidate).

Step Two

Once the presidential candidates are decided by the major political parties, the process of general election begins. The candidates campaign throughout the country to win the support of the voters. Remember, the US election takes place in two phases.
In the general election, the voters do not cast their vote directly for an individual presidential candidate. In reality, the voters cast their vote for a group of people known as "electors".
The electors are the members of the Electoral College from the various US states and they in turn cast their vote for the preferred candidate. On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in the month of November, the Americans cast their vote. Once the general elections take place, the first phase of the US presidential election is completed.
In the second phase, the "presidential electors" elect the next president of the United States indirectly, according to rules and regulations set by the Electoral College System. The chosen electors of each state would meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday, in the month of December, to cast the votes to choose a president and a vice-president.
A presidential candidate who has an absolute majority is elected as the next president of the United States. However, if no candidates receive the absolute majority, then the House of Representatives elects the candidate from the top three candidates.