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The Process of Being Elected President of the

United States
Presidential Exploratory Committee - Campaigning
Presidential elections in the U.S. take place every Iour years. However, the process oI
becoming the next U.S. President generally begins long beIore the elections in January
2007, Ior example, potential candidates Ior the Republican and Democratic parties announced
their intentions to potentiallv run Ior President in the November 2008 Elections. With nearly
300 million Americans to persuade and millions oI campaign dollars to raise, the election
process generally begins a couple years beIore national elections as it did this January, 2007.
BeIore considering the presidential election process, let`s consider WHO can run Ior
President. Any person, male or Iemale, regardless oI their race, religion or ethnic background
can run Ior President oI the United States so long as he/she is:
At least 35 years old
A natural-born U.S. citizen
A resident oI the U.S. Ior at least 14 years
This said, let`s now consider how one runs Ior President. To simpliIy the process, let`s
consider the two major political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. (Independent
party candidates, such as the Green Party, do not necessarily Iollow the same procedures.)

Article 2 oI the U.S. Constitution states that only U.S. natural-born citizens may become President oI the United
States. Naturalized citizens that is to say, Ioreigners who become U.S. citizen are thereIore not eligible Ior the
U.S. Presidency. However, it is unclear whether Americans born abroad to either one or both parents oI U.S.
citizenship are eligible Ior the Presidency. While most American legal scholars and even most U.S. Justices
consider Ioreign-born American citizens 'natural-born Americans, there is no constitutional precision that
clariIies this exception. In Iact, an 1898 U.S. Supreme Court decision stated that someone born abroad does not
constitute a natural-born citizen. However, since no constitutional law establishing precedent Ior this exception
has been made, it is still unclear whether Ioreign-born U.S. citizens are eligible Ior the U.S. Presidency. For more
inIormation, visit this New York Times article: Can I Be President?
Images taken Irom Google image databank.
Generally, candidates Ior the Republican and Democratic parties announce their intention to
run Ior President soon aIter the mid-term elections (two years into the current President`s
term). So Ior example, candidates announced their intention to run Ior the November 2008
Presidential elections in January 2007 aIter the November 2006 midterm elections (mid-term
because G.W. Bush was re-elected in 2004).
The announcement to run Ior President is oIten announced by a 'Presidential Exploratory
Committee. This means that the candidate will Iorm a committee to explore the possibility oI
running Ior President. BeIore oIIicially announcing his/her oIIicial intention to run Ior
President, he/she uses this time to see iI there is public support, party support, Iinancial
support, etc. While most candidates who announce the Iormation oI an Exploratory
Committee run Ior President, they can also announce that they have decided aIter exploration
not to run Ior oIIice.
Once candidates oIIicially declare their campaign Ior oIIice, the Presidential campaign races
really begin. Here, candidates Iorm extensive election committees with support across the
U.S. These committees are responsible Ior helping raise money, talking to local/state/national
individuals and groups, sign-posting and making public announcements, etc. The goal is to
gather the most support possible beIore state and national primaries.
A note on publicitv and finances.
At this stage in the game, gathering Iinancial support is important. Running a successIul
Presidential campaign can cost millions oI dollars some estimate, Ior instance, that Hillary
Clinton (Dem. Candidate) and John McCain (Rep. Candidate) will raise upwards oI $50
million. Public Iinancial support Ior campaigns is available; however, recently, most
successIul Presidential candidates have rejected public Iunding, which legally requires them
limit their overall campaign spending.
Publicity at this stage in the game is also a tricky issue; candidates want to get their name and
Iace out. The more the public hears their names, the more likely the public is to remember
them on voting day. However, advertising is not done at this point in time remember; this is
only an 'exploratory campaign beIore oIIicially running Ior President. Candidates also use
this time to pick the issues they will support and discuss during elections.
Images taken Irom Google image databank.
State Primaries (or Caucuses)
Once a candidate oIIicially announces his/her candidacy Ior the Presidency, he/she begins the
campaign trail, oIten visiting as many states and local areas as possible. Candidates also begin
advertising, and signs, banners, pins, hats, shirts, and today, television commercials and
websites are seen everywhere. Generally, most candidates have local and state campaign
oIIices that are charged with getting their names out, meeting the public, holding campaign
conIerences and gathering Iinancial support, etc.
Approximately one year beIore the November Presidential elections, generally around
February, states hold primary elections Ior party candidates. New Hampshire, by historic
precedence, always holds the Iirst state primary (also known as a caucus). At the state
primaries, political party members Ior that state, and ONLY political party members vote Ior
the candidate they support Ior the party`s chosen candidate. In other words, members oI the
Massachusetts` Republican Party vote Ior which Republican candidate they want to run Ior
President. Democrats and other oIIicially recognised parties such as the Green Party also hold
state primaries. Independent voters that is to say, voters who are not registered to a national
party may not vote during primary elections.
Images taken Irom Google image databank.
National Conventions
In the spring oI the election year, a national convention Ior the Democratic and Republican
parties is held to decide the Iinal party candidate Ior the national Presidential elections. At this
point, delegates Irom every state meet to vote Ior ONE party candidate. State delegates cast
their votes and a Presidential candidate is chosen usually this is done without problem.
Once a Presidential candidate is chosen by each party, a Vice Presidential candidate is chosen.
Usually, this candidate is chosen by the Presidential nominee, and he/she is chosen to help
balance the Presidential ticket that is to say, to help make a balanced image that will win the
most votes while maintaining the political party`s objectives Ior OIIice. This balance is oIten
chosen Ior issues such as geography a Presidential candidate Irom the East coast and a Vice
President Irom the West coast or ideology, such as a hard-line Presidential candidate and a
more moderate Vice President.
II a current President is running Ior re-election, he/she still must be approved by the respective
political party at the National Convention.
Independent Presidential candidates, while they do not have a national convention, are still
required to meet election requirements beIore posing their candidacy. For more inIormation,
read this article on the general election: General Elections (
Images taken Irom Google image databank.
General (or Popular) Elections
Once the political parties choose a Presidential candidate, the races become Iully charged.
Public announcements, speeches, televised debates, lawn signs, local rallies, television
interviews, campaign slogans, and catchy tunes are all party oI the campaign trail.
Finally, the Iirst Tuesday Iollowing the Iirst Monday oI November, is the general elections, in
which all registered voters cast a ballot Ior the President. These votes are then used to
determine which candidate wins the state elections and thus the states electoral votes.
In the General Election, the President and Vice President are selected together. Only one vote
is cast. Also, the winner oI the state vote wins ALL oI the state`s electoral votes (in theory
see below), excluding two states where the vote can be split a much more complicated
Electoral College
As noted in the 2000 Gore-Bush elections, the winner oI the Popular Vote does not
necessarily win the election. This is because the winner oI the state vote, which only requires
50.1 oI the votes, wins all the electoral votes Ior that state (except Ior two states, as noted
above). This phenomenon is contributed to the Electoral College system.
Images taken Irom Google image databank.
The Electoral College is an important component oI the American Presidential voting system.
The Iounding Iathers created the Electoral College Ior two reasons: Iirst, they Ieared a tyrant
or powerIul candidate could manipulate public opinion and come to power. Second, they
wanted to ensure smaller states, with smaller populations, would have an equal opportunity to
inIluence the Presidential vote.
To explain, the Electoral College is supposed to be comprised oI intelligible citizens who can
make intelligent decisions when voting Ior the President. II public will or opinion were
inIluenced by a tyrannical candidate (or say by Ialse campaigning, lying, manipulation, etc)
then electoral voters could vote against the generally elected President. That is to say, electoral
voters are not required to cast the same vote as their state constituents iI they Ieel the vote was
cast under Ialse or manipulating circumstances.
The second reason is Iar more important because it reIlects the balance oI State powers.
Because the President is supposed to represent equally all American citizens, small states
should have an equal voice in the Presidential election. Thus, the number oI state Electoral
College votes is determined by the state`s House oI Representative members each state
having at least 1 and Senate members each state having 2. With at least 3 electoral votes,
smaller states actually have a more powerIul electoral vote than larger states. For example,
Wyoming, a small state with only three votes and approximately 210,000 people, represents
approximately 70,000 voters Ior each electoral vote. CaliIornia, however, has 54 electoral
votes and 9.7 million voters about 179,000 voters per electoral vote. Thus, while in the
general election large states have more inIluence, smaller states are giving a larger inIluence
in the Electoral College.
The Electoral College votes on the Iirst Monday aIter the second Wednesday in December.
This vote is done in secret and is then sent to the Senate to be counted in January. Here, unlike
the General Election, one vote is cast Ior the President and another vote is cast Ior the Vice
Images taken Irom Google image databank.
Congressional Counting, Approval, or Voting
On January 6, the Electoral College votes are sent to the Congress where the President oI the
Senate body counts the Presidential and Vice Presidential votes. In order to win, both
candidates must have an absolute majority this means that Irom the 538 electoral votes, at
least 270 must be cast in Iavour oI the candidate Ior President and the Vice President.
II an absolute majority is obtained, the Congress symbolically conIirms the new President and
Vice President. II it is not obtained, the House oI Representatives votes to determine who the
next President will be. Each state casts one vote and an absolute majority is needed to win.
The Senate votes in the same manner to decide who the next Vice President.
An absolute
majority is also needed Ior this vote.
AIter all voting is Iinished and approved, the new President and Vice President are sworn to
oath on January 20
during the Presidential Inauguration.
Finally, a new President is elected!
More InIormation:
Elections (
The House, which represents all the people (here, the number oI state congressmen is determined by state
population) votes Ior the President, who is supposed to represent all Americans.
The Senate, which balances the power between states (here, each state gets two senators) votes Ior the Vice-
President, who symbolically balances the Presidential power.
Images taken Irom Google image databank.