The world’s spotlight has been on the US election for the past few days, and will continue to do so while the votes are still being counted. It’s a contentious and dirty fight that’s going down in the West, and people around the world are keeping a keen watch. If Trump wins, it empowers the Right the world over, and if Biden wins, it empowers the Left. But there’s a lot of confusion around how exactly the elections there work in the first place.
The US has a system where voters do not directly elect the president. They choose presidential electors to the Electoral College who then vote for the president and vice president.
In simple terms, the ‘Electoral College’ is basically the body of people selected by voters to be the electors. There are 538 electors in total.
In each state, Democrats, Republicans and other minor political parties select their own ‘slate’ of electors, which are put on the ballot. The party that wins the popular vote gets the entire slate of electors. It is possible to win large majority votes, and still lose to an opponent who has an Electoral College majority – that’s what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
There are around 12 battleground states – these are states where it is unclear which candidate will emerge victorious.
In the current elections, some of these states were Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
A presidential candidate has to obtain a simple majority of 270 electoral votes to win.
Polling is done on November 3. On December 8, the secretary of state or equivalent chooses which winning group of electors will be called to the state house. Then, on December 14, the electors cast their own ballots. Following this, the Electoral College is dissolved.
Now, all that’s left is for the counting of the votes to be completed.