We can all agree that voting is important, no matter how you do it. This election season, we’re helping you get politically active from your favorite place: bed. But first, let’s start with the basics — what do some of these terms mean?!
Caucus. Primary. Electoral College. Delegate. We remember these words from our high school history books, but we could definitely use a refresher. With the first of the conventions happening this week, there’s never been a better time to brush up on your knowledge. Here are some of the key terms to know ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Where political parties officially nominate a candidate for president (each party has one). It feels like a party and looks like one too — think: red, white, and blue balloons and usually a large crowd, but we're not sure what this looks like in a COVID-19 world. The conventions are also used to solidify a party’s platform leading up to the big day (Election Day!).
No, it's not a growth on your foot. They are meetings run by political parties in which participants discuss a variety of topics, including their presidential nominee choice. These happen for local elections, but in presidential elections, some states hold caucuses instead of primaries. The process varies by party, but generally, voters show up in person (think: at a library or community center) to discuss the candidates and cast their vote. The process can take a long time, usually several hours.
These are the people chosen to represent their state at national party conventions. First things first, to become a party’s presidential nominee, candidates need to win a majority of the party’s delegates. During each state’s primary or caucus, there are a certain number of delegates up for grabs, which are awarded based on how well a candidate does in that race. Then, at the conventions, the delegates are the ones who officially cast votes to nominate a party’s presidential candidate. There are two main types of delegates: pledged (who have to support the candidate they were given during the primary or caucus) and un-pledged or super (who can support any candidate).
This is how the US chooses its POTUS. To win, a candidate needs a majority of electoral votes – 270 out of 538. If there’s no majority, the House chooses the president, and the Senate chooses the Vice President. When it comes to actually making it to 270 or more, it goes a little something like this: after you vote for president, your vote goes into a state-wide count. In 48 out of the 50 states (plus DC), the candidate with the most votes gets 100% of the electoral votes for that state. This is known as the winner-takes-all rule. Two states (Maine and Nebraska) give their electoral votes out proportionally.
The official certified rep that votes in the Electoral College. There are 538 electors. Each state plus DC has a certain number of electors in a presidential election. Electors are chosen by a state’s political party and are often people with close ties to the party (usually a state elected official). They later cast an official vote representing their state’s choice for president. From there, the electors’ votes are sent to Congress, which officially counts them.
The day the who's who of politics shows up. Let's make it official — this is the ceremony where newly elected officials are sworn into office. Presidential inaugurations are every four years on January 20. If that date falls on a Sunday, presidents are privately sworn in ahead of a public ceremony on the 21st.
This is a way of measuring election results. Whoever wins the most votes wins the popular vote, but that doesn't necessarily mean a win in a presidential election. Congressional elections are decided this way but not presidential elections. Because of the Electoral College system, in presidential elections, even if a candidate wins the popular vote, it doesn’t mean he or she wins the presidency. A candidate has won the popular vote but lost the election five times in US history.
The election before the big one! This is when voters choose who they want as their party's presidential nominee. Some states have closed primaries — where you can only vote for candidates within your registered party. Other states have open primaries – no matter what party you’re registered with, you can vote for any candidate, in any party. And other states do something in between.
Now that you know, go share the wealth with your friends! @lunya