The US presidential elections take place every four years and the outcome is not only awaited in the United States but also throughout the world.
Here’s a beginner’s guide to US elections 2020:
When is the election?
The election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Is the election limited to choosing the President?
No. While the entire focus of the election is on who will be the next President of the United States of America, voters will also be choosing new members of the Congress which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House of Representatives members serve two-year terms after which elections need to be conducted. In the Senate, senators serve six-year terms which are split in three parts and therefore, one-third of the senators are up for election every two years.
How do the elections work?
For becoming the President, candidates compete to win the Electoral College votes. Each state gets Electoral College votes based on its population. Voters decide who will go to the Electoral College and except two states, all others have a “winner takes all” rule which means that whoever wins the highest number of votes in the state gets all of the Electoral College votes. From a total of 538 Electoral College votes, the winner has to get 270 votes or more in order to become the President. This also means that it is not necessary to win the popular vote to become the President as US has an indirect election system.
Elections will be held for all 435 seats of the House of Representatives. In Senate, 33 seats are up for grabs.
Who can vote and how?
A US citizen who is 18 years and above is eligible to vote in the elections. Voting can be done in person on the election day, in person but early before election day, through mail-in ballot or postal ballots and through absentee ballots.
Who are the presidential candidates?
Republican Party: Incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence
Democrat Party: Former Vice President Joe Biden for President with his running mate Kamala Harris for Vice President
What are the central issues of the elections?
The elections will be a referendum on the Trump’s presidency. Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, protests in reaction to the killing of George Floyd, situation of the economy under Trump, nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court have been the major issues discussed during the election cycle.
How is this election different from the previous elections?
This election will be very different from the previous elections due to Covid-19. Although President Trump’s campaign has many more public appearances, Joe Biden’s campaign has been largely low key. President Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis also changed the scenario. Except the first debate between the presidential candidates and one debate between the vice presidential candidates, no debates have taken place as the Trump campaign disagreed to the idea of virtual debates.
The voting has also been impacted and a surge in postal ballots has also been seen.
When will the results be out?
It can take several days for all the votes to be counted but the winner is usually clear by the morning of November 4. This time because of the increase in number of postal ballots, the counting process could be lengthy.
When will the new President take office?
The new President will be sworn into office on January 20, 2021, in a ceremony called the Inauguration Day.