by Sophia Mdinaradze, Milan Riley, and Ava-Ray Pributsky
A presidential election in the United States is a democratic process held every four years in which all U.S citizens age 18 and older vote on the nominees for president, as well as a selection of each state’s Congressional representatives. The first election was held on Monday, December 15, 1788, and the most recent one was on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
There have been 45 presidencies in total, and this is the 59th presidential election. Even when this election is over, the victor won’t officially become president until January 20, 2021, when the current President Trump’s term finishes. For now, Joe Biden will be President-elect until he is sworn in at his inauguration.
Before the voting began, each candidate attended several debates to explain their platforms and campaign points to the public. Let’s take a look at the candidates who ran for president or vice president.
The Presidential & Vice Presidential Candidates:
There were 4 presidential nominees, along with their 4 vice presidential running mates. There were originally many more candidates throughout the primary process, though lots of them dropped out of the race earlier on: 27 Democrats and 3 Republicans in all. Here is a list of each major party’s final nominees, including their running mates and political party.
The rules for the presidential election are different than other types of elections. For example, a student body election occurred recently at the Science Academy in which we voted for the ASB President, Vice President, Historian, Secretary, Treasurer, and Representatives. The candidates with the most votes won. However, the U.S. presidential election is run very differently. Our election uses something called the Electoral College. To be honest, it’s a pretty confusing and complicated process so here’s a basic explanation to understand what takes place:
The electoral college consists of 538 electors who formally vote for the president of the United States. Each state has a specific number of electoral votes based on their population and the number of Representatives in the House plus two Senators. A candidate must receive at least 270 electoral votes to win the election, and in general, a state’s electors are chosen based on who received the most votes in that state. However, it is possible that candidates can win the popular vote but lose the election if they don’t reach 270. For example, in 2000 Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote in the election, but Republican George Bush won the electoral vote.
When everyone in a state has voted, the candidate that receives the majority of votes receives that state’s electoral votes in a winner-take-all result, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, who allocate electoral votes via districts. The Electoral College meets in December to cast the votes determined by their constituents. Here is an illustration of each state’s electoral votes:
Each state determines the process and method for voting, usually administered by their Secretary of State. Some states use paper ballots while others have voting machines. Some states, like Oregon and Colorado, have gone to 100% mail-in balloting.
Even though a lot of states vote differently, before Covid-19, most citizens voted at their nearest voting location in person on Election Day. However, citizens who could not go in person this year due to the pandemic could apply for an absentee ballot in many states, which is a ballot sent and returned by mail. For the 2020 general election, as a response to Covid-19, every registered voter was sent a ballot by mail in some states such as California. Once finished with the ballot, citizens either mailed them back or dropped them off in a drop box or at a voting poll location. Some states had early voting, while others only allowed voting in person on Election Day.
Since the pandemic encouraged many more people to vote by mail as a safety precaution, it was very important for citizens to turn in their ballots early on to ensure all the votes could be received in time to be counted. This year, 65,487,735 people voted by mail while only about 33,000,000 people voted by mail in 2016.
The unprecedented number of mail-in ballots made the election a bit more complicated this year. Different states had different deadlines for receiving the ballots, as well as differing rules as to exactly when the ballots could be processed so it was impossible to predict how a state would vote until a long time after the polls closed on Nov. 3rd.
The polls started to close in the East first, since it is ahead by three hours there. Around eight P.M, November 3rd, polls started to close in many western states, too. By this time, news channels already began projecting electoral votes based on states’ voting history and which candidate they were currently leaning towards.
There were several swing states that couldn’t easily be put in the blue (Democrat) or red (Republican) columns. These included Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Arizona. Fairly early in the night, it was announced that President Trump had gained Florida’s 29 electoral votes and Ohio’s 18 votes. Adding these to the states already called, Trump took an early lead. The counting continued for several days as the nation awaited the results. Minnesota and Michigan were called for Biden, while Texas and South Carolina were called for Trump. In fact, one state, Georgia, was projected by several outlets to have gone for the Republican, but as the count continued, it had to be uncalled and later was called for the Democrat. Once Arizona, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were called for Biden, Joe Biden was named President-elect and Kamala Harris was named Vice President-elect. Votes are still being counted, especially in large population states like California and New York, and President Trump is currently contesting the election procedures in certain states in court, but most observers do not expect the results to be changed.
After Biden got the electoral college votes from Wisconsin and Michigan, he only needed to win 6 more electoral votes from a state to obtain the next presidency. On the morning of Saturday, November 7th, Biden had taken the lead in Pennsylvania. Since the count there had almost finished, Biden was projected to be the 46th President of the United States.
[Image from 11-07-2020 at 8:37 AM]
With all these state’s electoral votes, Biden had 284 electoral votes to Trump’s 214. Exceeding the amount of votes necessary for winning, which was only 270. This made Biden the official President-elect. Ultimately, after the count was finished in Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina, Joe Biden received 290 electoral votes and Donald Trump received 232.
- Wisconsin, red to blue
- Michigan, red to blue
- Pennsylvania, red to blue.
- Georgia, red to blue
- Arizona, red to blue
- Nevada, blue
- Colorado, blue
- Texas, red
- Iowa, red
- Minnesota, blue
- Wisconsin, blue
- Michigan, blue
- Ohio, red
- Florida, red
- Pennsylvania, blue
- Virginia, blue
- New Hampshire, blue
The President-elect & Vice President- elect Address the Nation:
When Biden was projected to be the winner on Saturday, November 7th, he and Kamala Harris gave an address to the public in Delaware. Biden said that it was “time to heal America” and stated, “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.”
The Vice President-elect said, “While I may be the first woman in my office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is the country of possibilities.” When becoming Vice President-elect, Harris broke several racial and gender barriers, inspiring many people: she is the first woman, the first person of African descent, the first person of East Asian descent, and the first child of immigrants to ascend to the office of Vice President.
The Associated Press:
The Washington Post:
270 to Win:
List of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin
Does your vote count? Electoral College explained – Christina Greer
Electoral vote vs. the popular vote: explained | Just The FAQs