An election can be defined as the process in which the citizens select the officials they want to run their government. The system of government in place in United States is a representative democracy in which Americans select representatives to reflect their interests at the governmental level.
In the United States, members of political parties hold various types of political primary elections to nominate the leaders they wish to represent them in both Presidential Elections and Congressional Elections.
Presidential elections take place in the United States every four years and include a President and Vice President. Presidents are limited to two terms in office to ensure that no one leader consolidates too much power and influence over the country, whereas Vice Presidents have no term limits.
The Electoral College is the process by which the President and the Vice President are officially elected. It is through this process that the United States is declared a representative democracy. Each individual state has a certain amount of “electors” as determined by their population and this number matches the number of members of Congress to which each state is entitled. Thus, there are 538 electors total, which correspond to the 435 members of the House and 100 members of the Senate and include 3 additional electors from the District of Colombia.
These electors are representative of the citizens of each state, as they pledge to vote in accordance with their constituents. The electoral votes needed to win in a presidential election are currently 270. These electoral votes are given on a winner take all basis where the majority of votes awarded to a candidate are then transferred to the electoral votes that candidate will receive from that particular state.
In the case of the legislative body of the U.S. Government, Senators are elected to a 6-year term and members of the House of Representatives are elected to 2-year terms. Congressional Elections are held every two years. Every other Congressional Election is held during the Presidential Election, where voters typically vote for their candidates of choice using a single ballot. During the alternate election cycles, Congressional Elections are referred to as Mid-term Elections.
The process for electing Senators and members of the House of Representatives in different than that of the President. Representatives and Senators are elected directly. For Representatives, only those with in the candidate’s corresponding district may vote, as each district has its own representatives seeking the election. In the case of Senators however, any registered voter in the corresponding state can vote in their election.
Learn about registering to vote in the U.S. and what the process is like. Read more
The Voting Process
Learn about the full process, from registering to vote to casting your ballot. Read more
Voting System Vulnerabilities
What are the voting system vulnerabilities of today and how are the protected? Read more
What are the political parties today and what do the stand for? Read more
(Follow My Vote is a non-partisan organization)