A short guide to US Elections

[Call this a mini guide if you wish. Some things are left out.]

Many people are probably very happy they don’t live in the US. One just have to look at the election process to see why.

In Canada, we have federal elections roughly every 4 years. Prior to the election, the government still in power decides the length of the election. The minimum number of days is 37. The maximum is generally twice that. During the campaign, there may be a number of debates. Usually after the election, if one party leader resigns [because of a poor showing during the election, an interim party leader is elected until a party convention. Between the announcement of the interim leader and the convention, various nominees for the party leader are announced. At the convention [over 3 days], the leader is voted on by the delegates [those who are members of the party].

There are separate elections for provinces and territories that can be at any time within their mandate as well as local elections which may or may not have a predetermined date.

Nice and simple. Something like this is typical for most countries.

Except the United States.

In case you somehow missed it, the US will be voting for their next election in early November [as well as about a third of the senate, various state propositions, etc.].

The run for the President actually start after the “midterm” elections [see after this].

From then, depending on whether the incumbent President can run or chooses not to run [can’t exceed two terms of 4 years each], either or both main parties [Republicans and Democrats] will begin the process of choosing a leader. Until about January of the election year it is primarily just announcing whether some will run or not as a nominee for part leader.

Come January, the primaries and caucuses begin. For about 5 months, a caucus is a system of local gatherings where voters will decide which Presidential candidate to support and then select delegates for the party’s conventions in July. In contrast, a primary is a statewide voting process in which eligible voters will cast ballots for their choice of candidate. Depending on the state, it is a winner takes all for who wins the state or proportionally allocated the number of delegates.

Over time, candidates will drop out and generally put their support behind their choice of candidates.

At the part convention, a final vote for the party’s nomination for President is finalized [plus various other party business such as a platform].

Then in early November, the US has their general election. In addition to a third of the senate seats up for grabs and all House seats, usually about 11 states have their gubernatorial and there could be additional elections for mayor, sheriff, etc.

In January the following year, the new government [or same if the incumbent wins] takes charge of the country.

Then the country goes on election hiatus except maybe 2-3 gubernatorial elections.

Then after that there is the “midterm” elections where there are many gubernatorial elections [maybe 35-36], all House seats, a third of the Senate seats and various local elections.

It is quite comment to see the President lose House and Senate seats – particularly if the country is doing well. A President with a minority in the House and senate will have a difficult time passing any laws unless there are negotiations with the other party.

Following the “midterm” election, the country goes on election hiatus except maybe 2-3 gubernatorial elections again until the process starts all over again.


About ebraiter
computer guy

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