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Elections in the USA – The basics!

Would you like to be able to talk about the presidential elections that are being held in the US? Well, you will need a lot of new vocabulary! In this blog post I’ll show you the basic concepts you need to know:

An election for president of the United States happens every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

What are the requirements to run for office?

You need to be:

  • A natural born citizen.
  • At least 35 years old.
  • A US resident for at least 14 years.

Political parties

Political parties are  organized groups of people with similar ideas or ideology about the function and scope of government.

These are some examples of political parties in Peru.

In the US, there are two main political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Democrats are donkeys and Republicans are elephants.

The democrat and republican candidates campaign around the country to get more supporters.

You have probably heard people talk about the House of representatives, but what is it?

The United States House of Representatives is one of the two chambers or Houses. The House of Representatives shares equal responsibility for lawmaking with the U.S. Senate. As conceived by the framers of the Constitution, the House was to represent the popular will, and its members were to be directly elected by the people. In contrast, members of the Senate were appointed by the states until the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment (1913), which mandated the direct election of senators.

Who are the representatives?

They are also referred to as a congressman or congresswoman. Unlike the president, who is elected every 4 years, representatives are chosen every 2 years to serve the people of a specific congressional district. Among other duties, representatives introduce bills and resolutions, offer amendments and serve on committees.

Each state gets as many electors as it has members of Congress (House and Senate). There are currently 538 electors. Each state’s political parties choose their own slate of potential electors.

How is the population represented?

Well, although there are 50 states, there is not one representative for each state. In the US the population of the 50 states is represented proportionally.

For example, California has 53 districts, that means there is a representative for each of them, 53 representatives. The estate of Alaska is large in size but has a small population, therefore it has only one district, which means there’s only one representative for Alaska in the House.

What does a candidate need to win?

To win, a presidential candidate needs to get at least 270 votes.

Let’s compare!

I’m pretty sure elections are done in a different way in your country (because the way the US does it is pretty confusing and I don’t think it happens anywhere else in the world), so here’s an example of a comparison between the US and Peru.

More about electronic voting

There are three types of Electronic voting in USA :

  • The Paper based E vote system has a touchscreen added for the voter’s use. This system will print a hardcopy of the ballot once the voter is done. This ballot needs to be passed out the election officer so it can be counted.
  • The Direct recording electronic system has a touchscreen with digital swipe card buttons which will be used in order to make the choices. All votes are stored in a physical memory device which are sent to a special voting station for their results.
  • Internet voting is the type of vote that is done in remote locations. This type of voting service is not supervised by governmental representatives. The most common devices to used for this type of vote are: Personal computer, Television via Internet also known as i-voting and mobile phone.

Other related words:

absentee ballot (voto en ausencia), ballot, candidate, Election Assistance Commission, electoral college, electronic voting, runoff, paper ballot, paperless voting, poll, voter registration

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