US Elections explained

US Elections
US Elections

The US Presidential race is getting hotter with every passing day.

Here is all you need to know about the US elections.

The Big Day

The people of the United States elect their new president on the first Tuesday of the month of November in every four year and this time it’ll be on November 8, 2016.

The American election system is not as straightforward as it seems, as only number of votes is not the only criteria to get the presidency.

So make things simpler here is how US elections systemized starting from who can become a presidential candidate to the day a newly-elected president is inaugurated:

The Presidential essentials

To contest for the US presidency one must fulfill the following criteria:
* You should be a natural born US citizen
* You have to be 35 years of age
* You must be a US resident for the past 14 years

Primaries and caucuses

Each candidate is supported by a party and each party has its own ideology. The primaries and caucuses help bring these like-minded candidates and believers of a party together to choose a candidate who will represent the party in the general elections.

In Indian context, this is like a party nominating its Prime Ministerial candidate.

Primaries are straight-forward voting systems where party believers vote for a particular candidate.

During caucuses, voters divide themselves into groups according to who they support in the party.

This is done among the parties and people are not directly involved in it.


At the end of every primary or caucus, the candidates of different parties pick up ‘delegates’. Each candidate of a party has to pick up a pre-determined number of delegates to win the nomination.

If one wants to become a Democratic Party candidate one has to be pick up 2,383 of 4,765 delegates. Whereas become a Republican Party candidate one has to pick up 1,237 of 2,472 delegates. Which Donald Trump has done.

The numbers varies from Party-to-Party.

Delegates are of two types – pledged and unpledged.

National conventions

Parties hold national conventions to announce the candidate, who has picked up the required number of delegates, as the party’s nominee for the general elections.

If no one has achieved the magic number then the convention becomes a brokered or contested one. The pledged delegates and unpledged delegates come into the spotlight.

Contested convention is equivalent to the election of a pope. Because there was no consensus in the primaries and caucuses, another round of voting is conducted. Wherein ‘pledged delegates’ usually have to vote for the candidate they were awarded to in the first round of voting, while unpledged delegates don’t.

Pledged delegates may be allowed to choose any candidate in subsequent rounds of voting. The voting continues until a consensus emerges and a nominee is finalized.

Donald Trump

General elections

US citizens vote to choose their presidents during general elections. But here too they do not choose the president directly.

The US follows an indirect method called Electoral College to choose the president. Under this system, citizens vote for a group of people known as electors. And the electors, in turn, choose the president.

The magic of 270

In the Electoral College system, each state gets a certain number of electors based on its representation in the Congress. There are a total of 538 electoral votes.

Each political party nominates electors who are state-elected officials, party leaders or persons who have a personal or political affiliation with the presidential candidate.

Each elector elected by the citizens across the United States casts one vote following the general election and the Presidential candidate who crosses the 270 mark wins.

And in January the newly-elected president is inaugurated.

ALSO READ: What if Trump triumphs in US elections


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