How is a President elected?
by Jane & Caroline

When a person wants to be President they announce themselves before the first primary election. The first primary is held in February the year before the actual election. Primary elections are elections that are held in each state. The primary elections help the individual political parties decide whom their Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates will be. Citizens who want to help the political parties decide to register as a member of a certain party and vote in that primary. For example, if somebody registers as a Democrat they only vote in the Democratic primary. The primary vote helps the parties decide who their candidates will be.

In the summer of the election year, the parties hold a convention where the party chooses its candidate. It is usually the person who has won the most delegates in the primary elections and caucuses. That person chooses his or her running mate, who becomes the Vice Presidential candidate. Their parties then officially nominate the candidates.

Once the candidates are officially nominated by their parties, the race is on! All of the candidates travel around the country meeting people, making speeches, and kissing babies while their advertisements broadcast on the radio and are shown on television. The candidates also have debates about important issues to help people decide which candidate they want to vote for.

The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is Election Day. On Election Day people go to vote. Almost anyone can vote, however you must be a United States citizen, at least 18 year old and registered to vote. A person who is in jail or is on probation for committing a felony (serious crime such as murder or robbery) cannot vote. 

When you go to vote you go to your assigned polling place, usually a school, fire station or library near your home. When you go to vote you sign your name in a big book, and you get a ballot with all the candidates' names. You then go behind a curtain and mark your ballot. In some states you use a machine.

Usually you find out who won the popular vote by the morning after the election. The candidate who won the popular vote is still not the President. Now they have to win the electoral vote! The citizens don't actually decide who the President is. The Electoral College decides. The Electoral College is a group of electors. Each state has a number of electors depending on the population of the state. The electors usually vote the way the citizens vote. However, some states require electors to vote like the citizens and some do not. When a candidate wins the election in a state he or she gets all of the state's votes. The candidate must get at least 270 electoral votes in all to win the election. Here is a map of the U.S. with each state's electoral votes.

After the electors vote we find out who the president and the vice president will be. Once in the history of the U.S. there was a tie. When this happens the House of Representatives vote. In each state every representative votes. Whoever wins in the state gets the state's one vote. 

On January 20, the new president and vice president are sworn in into office. They make a speech and promise to do their job well.

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