Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Two Groups of Voters in US Presidential Elections

In US Presidential elections, there are two groups of voters.

The first group is the general public. They vote in November.

The second group is called the Electoral College. It votes in December.

The general public vote for their preferred Presidential candidate, but they don't directly elect the President - the Electoral College does that.

The Presidential candidates were chosen beforehand by delegates at their party conventions. The delegates who got to go to those conventions in the first place were also elected by their parties beforehand. This process is called the Primaries.

Also prior to the general election in November, each party in each State and the District of Columbia chooses individuals who could potentially become part of the group that gets to vote in December, the group called the Electoral College.

Each State is allocated a different number of electors - depending on the population of the State. It's the same number as the number of members of Congress the State is allocated, plus two (the Senators).

The Electoral College will consist of 538 electors drawn nationwide. But it is not yet known before the November election which party in each State will get to contribute their State's quota of electors. That's where the November election comes in.

Whichever candidate wins the majority of the popular vote in any given State in the November election, his (or her) party gets to contribute the electors for that State towards the Electoral College. And of course, in the Electoral College vote in December, the electors vote for their own party's Presidential nominee. Whichever candidate wins an absolute majority in this election - at least 270 - becomes President.

A couple of States have a slightly different and more detailed way of choosing who they send as electors in the Electoral College. There are also procedures in place to choose a President, if no candidate wins an absolute majority in the Electoral College vote.

So the US Presidential election is more than a single-stage process. It involves:
  • the primaries - in which individual party members are chosen to go as delegates to their party convention, where they then choose their party nominee; 
  • then the general election - which informs who the States end-up sending as electors in the Electoral College; 
  • then the Electoral College finally elects a President.

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