Arming yourself with adequate information will allow you to maximize the impact of your vote in the upcoming election. While the United States has a somewhat complex presidential election process, it is easy to follow the procedures if you understand how it works. By engaging in and fully understanding the election process, you can teach others how their right to vote works. In doing so, you may encourage them to make it out to the polls this year and cast their vote.
The Stages of the U.S. Presidential Election
The Presidential election is divided into several different political events. Understanding how each event works can prepare you with knowledge that you can use to inform your vote.
Primary Elections and Caucuses
You have probably heard news about the recent primary elections and caucuses that occurred midway through 2020. During these events, voters selected which candidates they would prefer to lead their party. Though primaries and caucuses are both carried out to achieve the same goal, selecting political candidates, there are some differences between the two events.
Primary elections are electoral events that are typically run by a state’s government. If your state held an open primary election, voters were allowed to vote for candidates from either political party. If your state held a closed primary, they had to register their vote with a specific party. In both cases, the votes are tallied up at the end of the event and the people who have the highest vote will represent their party in the general election.
Caucuses are different from primaries, as rather than being a typical voting process, people gather physically in groups to indicate their support for their chosen candidate. During the event, supporters will attempt to get attendees to join their groups and show support for their candidate of choice. As the events proceed, candidates who cannot manage to gather at least 15% of the attendees are removed from the race. The candidates who remain at the end of this process are deemed viable candidates for the general election.
The Democratic and Republican National Conventions are events that are held to officially nominate the U.S. presidential candidates for an upcoming election. Once upon a time, the candidates were chosen during the convention, but that job is now done through the primary elections and caucuses.
National conventions also serve another important role in the U.S. election process. During these conventions, party leaders meet to discuss things like the party’s political ideas and goals. Oftentimes, the political platform that the party will run on is decided by the end of the convention.
By staying informed about the national convention, you can gain a better idea of what your party’s goals are. This, in turn, will help you understand the impact your vote will have on the future of the country.
The General Election
The general election is the final event leading up to the selection of the next President of the United States. On November 3rd, voters like you will show up to polls across the country and cast their vote. Some may have mailed in their vote or cast an absentee ballot already. Regardless of how you vote, engaging in this process means that you have done your civil duty and allowed your voice to reach the highest levels of government.
Over the course of the day, the votes are counted by each state and the presidential nominee with the majority of votes in any state claims that state’s balance of electoral votes. The number of electoral votes per state is equal to the number of seats in Congress the state holds.
For example, California has 2 senators and 53 seats in the House of Representatives, therefore the nominee with the most votes in California will receive a total of 55 electoral votes. There are a total of 538 electoral votes available in the U.S. and either candidate will need 270 votes to win. The candidate who holds the electoral majority is set to be inaugurated on January 20th of the next year.
Your Vote Counts
With millions of votes to be counted, your vote may not feel very important. The truth of the matter is, your vote could help your candidate of choice earn the electoral votes they need to win the election. If you share knowledge of how this process works and how important it is, maybe you can encourage your friends and family to vote too. There is strength in numbers.
Take the pledge to vote at www.blackmenvote.org
Don’t underestimate how powerful your voice and your vote can be.