Election Day in the United States is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden will face off in the 2020 US elections
news US Elections Wednesday, September 30, 2020 - 18:12

The United States of America is set to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election next month as incumbent president Donald Trump faces off against Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden. Reports suggest that there are about 4 million Indian-Americans, and about 1.3 million will be eligible to vote in the key battleground states that will ultimately determine the race. 

Indian-Americans have generally supported the Democratic Party, with the Biden campaign banking on the presence of VP candidate Kamala Harris to bolster that support. President Trump has also pushed to increase his base among Indian-American voters. Last year, the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Texas with Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew around 50,000 Indian-origin people.

But how do the elections work and when will it all be decided? Here’s a quick guide to the complicated election process that will be held this year. 

When is the election? 

In the US political system, two major parties dominate the race, and candidates from those two parties will compete — Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence for the Republican Party and Biden and Harris for the Democrats.

Tuesday, November 3 (the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November) is voting day across the United States, though early voting has already begun in some states.  

The outcome of the Presidential Election is decided through electoral college votes. Each state is allotted a certain number of electoral votes based on the population of that state.

In all except two states (Maine and Nebraska), the candidate with the most votes wins that state’s electoral college votes. This means that citizens are voting on a state-by-state basis and not nationally. For example, if Joe Biden wins in California, a historically blue state, he would get all 55 electoral college votes allotted to the state. Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that split the electoral college votes. 

In total, there are 538 electoral college votes and the candidate that wins needs 270 or more. 

Swing states, such as North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, where there are still undecided voters, will ultimately go a long way in determining the outcome of the race. In 2016, while Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, she did not win through the electoral college. 

Who is allowed to vote? 

American citizens over the age of 18 are eligible to vote, though there are stipulations within this as well. However, new laws within states have created obstacles for some communities, especially Black Americans, to cast their votes. 

Additionally, there is a major wrinkle in the process this year as the coronavirus pandemic has many pushing for mail-in ballots to be implemented widely. President Trump, however, has continually maintained that voter fraud could result from mail-in ballots, despite a complete lack of evidence. 

Not just the Presidential Elections

While media coverage is largely focused on the Presidential Election, there will be other names on the ballot for state and local elections as well. Members of the US Senate and House of Representatives will also be up for election in different states, as are local seats.

Democrats currently have control of the House and are looking to wrest control of the Senate away from the Republicans as well. In the House, 434 of 435 Congressional districts across the country are up for election. In the Senate, 33 seats will be voted on as well. 

When do we find out the winner?

Typically, major media houses will begin making predictions based on exit polls and early returns from each state. In 2016, Trump gave his victory speech at 3 am on November 9, only several hours after polls closed. However, given the number of mail-in ballots that are expected this year, it seems it may take days or weeks for a winner to be declared. 

What’s more, Trump has repeatedly suggested that, if the election does not go in his favour, he will not leave the White House quietly. Trump has refused to agree to a peaceful transfer of power, making unfounded claims of voter fraud and that the election process is “rigged.”

What are the important dates I need to know?

September 29: First presidential debate

October 7: Vice-presidential debate

October 15: Second presidential debate

October 22: Final presidential debate

November 3: Election Day

January 20: Inauguration Day

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