How Americans Elect a President (An Explanation for English Language Learners)

Posted on Posted in American Culture and Holidays, English lessons in New York, ESL tips

(I have had conversations with all of my students – even the beginners – about the coming election. Here is a post explaining as simply as I can how the United States elects a president.)

hillary-and-donaldEvery four years the United States holds an election for president. The major parties (Democratic and Republican) each choose a candidate. Both parties have a series of primary elections. These are contests between candidates in the same political party who are trying to get the nomination of that party. How primaries work varies from state to state. Not all states have primaries. Primaries do not take place on the same day, but happen over a period of months. The first one is usually in February. The final primary might not be until June. This is why our campaigns seem to go on forever. The voters choose between candidates when they are in the voting booth, but they are not actually voting directly for their choice. In reality, the candidate with the most votes wins delegates  to send to his or her party’s convention. The delegates all go to their party’s convention where they nominate their choice. The conventions take place during the summer.

Months before candidates start running (campaigning) in the primaries, they announce that they will run. This is because they need to start fundraising for their campaigns. This is another reason the process feels so long! (more…)