The US Presidential election is a battle for its 50 states and the District of Columbia.

A simple explainer on the US Presidential Election process Facebook/ Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton
news US Presidential Elections Tuesday, November 08, 2016 - 16:24

All eyes are on the United States on Tuesday as 120 million people will cast their vote to decide the country’s 45th President. Will Hillary Clinton make history by becoming the US’ first woman president? Or will Donald Trump “shake things up” in Washington DC by becoming the first “outsider” to make it to the White House?  Here’s a primer on how the world’s oldest democracy elects its leader.

The US Presidential election is a battle for its 50 states and the District of Columbia. But a tally of the votes, or the popular vote does not decide the winner of the polls and instead it is the Electoral College that finally elects the President and the Vice President of the US.

What is the Electoral College?

 “The Electoral College is a process and not a place,” states the National Archives and Records Administration.  Proportionate to its size, each of the 50 states have a certain number of electors. For example, California has 55 electoral votes, Texas has 38, New York and Florida have 29 each. With the District of Columbia allocated 3 electors, the Electoral College consists of 538 electors. To win the elections, each Presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes – 50% plus one.

How the Electoral College votes?

Every four years, the US goes to polls, with elections held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Each candidate running for President has his/her own group of electors, meaning the Democrats have 538 electors as do the Republicans, with each party choosing its own electors.

When American voters vote for their Presidential candidate, they are technically voting for their state’s elector. Barring Maine and Nebraska, 48 states having the “winner-take-all” system, wherein the Presidential candidate that gets the most votes in a state, takes all its electors. 

While the Electoral College votes only in December for the President, a projected winner is announced on election night.

Although the US election process has received it fair share of criticism over the years, what the Electoral College does is  ensure the rights of smaller states and maintains the federalist nature of the America’s democracy, writes The Huffington Post.  

What happens if no candidate secures 270 electors?

If none of the Presidential candidates get 270 votes, the election shifts to the US House of Representatives, where each state casts a vote. The candidate that gets majority of the votes, becomes the next President. A similar process is adopted for the Vice President, except the selection happens at the Senate.

When are the electoral votes counted?

A joint session of Congress is called on January 6, where each states’ electoral votes are counted. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and declares who been elected the President and the Vice President of the United States.

Inauguration Day

On Inauguration Day, the President-elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as the President of the United States on January 20 in the US Capitol building in Washington DC.

(With inputs from IANS)

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.