Every year, Americans have the opportunity to vote for leaders at the federal, state, or local levels. The presidential election happens every four years and becomes the main event for that year. This year on Election Day in November, in addition to choosing the President, voters will choose 35 members of the US Senate and all 435 members of the US House of Representatives at the federal level. Senators serve for six years, thus each election cycle about one-third of the 100 seats (two from each state) are up for a vote. Every representative’s seat is up for election every two years on the even years. The number of representatives a state has depends on its population, and each representative serves a specific congressional district. At the state level this year, 11 governorships are up for election as are more than 5,000 state legislature seats. In other US elections, candidates are elected directly by popular vote. However, the President and Vice President are not elected directly by the citizens, instead they are chosen by ‘electors’ through a process called the Electoral College. The process of using electors comes from the Constitution. Each state gets as many electors as it has members of Congress (Senate and House). There are currently 538 electors in all, including Washington, DC’s three electors. Each state’s political parties choose their own slate of potential electors, and who is chosen to be an elector, how, and when varies by state. A candidate needs the vote of at least 270 electors, more than half of all electors, to win the presidential election. As the US election process can be rather confusing, we have included in this edition a visual description to help understand the presidential elections.

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