US Presidential Elections 2020: How the Electoral System Works

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United States is a presidential regime holding elections to elect the Head of State and Government every four years invariably. [Sigue la última hora de las elecciones en EEUU 2020 en directo.]

This is how the electoral system of the United States in 8 keys:

1. Who can stand for election?

Anyone over 35 years old who was born in the US and can prove that they have resided in the country for at least 14 years.

According to Amendment 22 of the Constitution, introduced in 1951, you cannot serve as president for more than two terms (eight years).

2. Primary in the first semester

The US electoral process begins a few months before the elections of the month of November. In the first semester of the year, the mechanism of the primary to choose the candidate of each party. To participate in these elections, citizens over 18 years of age must register as voters. Each state regulates the registration requirements, with the exception of North Dakota, where any neighbor can vote in the primaries of any party.

On this occasion, the process began on February 3 with the Iowa caucus. The caucuses are a form of primaries based on a Assembly in which citizens registered or affiliated with the party in question choose, after a prior debate, their candidate by show of hands or by casting their vote in a ballot box.

3. Anointing of candidates at the convention

Once the primaries have been held in all the states, each party holds a national convention to anoint its presidential candidate, which reveals some of the main lines of its campaign at the conclave. In addition, this event – one of the great political events in the US downgraded to a virtual ‘show’ this year due to the pandemic – serves for the candidate for the White House to present his ‘ticket’ partner, the vice presidential candidate .

4. The day of the election, set by the Constitution

The date of the presidential elections was set shortly after United States independence and has remained until now. As stated in the Constitution, elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November in leap years and those divisible by 100.

Why are these conditions so corseted? The reason is cultural, responds to the customs and organization of the time. The month of November was set because it is not winter yet and it was more difficult for there to be transportation problems due to the weather. And it was specified that they were the first Tuesday after the first Monday to avoid coinciding with the All Saints holiday (November 1).

5. Day E arrives. Who can vote?

As in the primaries, those who can go to the polls citizens over 18 years old that they have registered previously as voters. In this case, in the state of North Dakota this management is not necessary to exercise the right to vote.

6. An indirect election: delegates and voters

Presidential elections in the US are by indirect suffrage. American voters they do not directly choose their candidate, but vote for a delegate or electors within each state. These will be the ones that will emit electoral votes on behalf of the voters. The winner is one that obtains an absolute majority of electoral votes, which may not correspond to the popular vote.

In total there are 538 delegates that make up the Electoral College. The figure equals the number of deputies in the House of Representatives (435), senators (100) and the three delegates from Washington DC (District of Columbia). They are distributed among the 50 states plus the District of Columbia based on population and is equivalent to the number of deputies and senators that corresponds to each territory. The states with the most voters are California (55), Texas (38) and New York Y Florida (both with 29).

Each state dictates the norms that fix the vote of the delegates. Most concede everybody the electoral votes of the state to the candidate who obtains the absolute majority of the popular votes, with the exception of Nebraska y Maine, which distribute the vote proportionally among each candidate according to the percentage of popular votes received.

7. Who wins the elections?

The winner of the presidential elections is the one who obtains, at least, 270 electoral votes, regardless of having obtained fewer popular votes as happened in the last elections, in which Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 306 electoral votes compared to 232, despite the fact that the Democratic candidate obtained 2% more popular support.

In the event that no candidate reaches this minimum, Congress is in charge of electing the president, according to Amendment 12 of the Constitution.

8. Count and investiture

According to the Constitution, on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, this time on December 14, the voters who make up the Electoral College they formally cast their votes elections and sends them to Congress, where they will be recounted Y certificates January 6th.

The Magna Carta also states that presidents must be sworn in on January 20 on the steps of the Capitol, before the Chief Justice, using the following formula: “I solemnly swear that I will faithfully exercise the office of President of the United States and, to the limit of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. United”.

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