The Electoral Process in the United States

Jennifer Rodas, Beats Editor

 More than 50 million Americans have already voted for the United States Presidential election according to Forbes Business Magazine. 50 million votes is about 37 percent of the votes that took place in the 2016 election, leading experts to believe that this year’s election will leave a new record of 150 million or more cast votes in a U.S election, surpassing any other election. 

    To be eligible to vote in the U.S., someone has to be registered to vote beforehand and they have to be at least 18 years of age. Registering can be done in person at your local elections office, through the mail, or by filling out an online form. Registering to vote varies state-to-state, so first research the options your state offers.

    When people are registered to vote they will receive a poll card through the mail. This poll card has all the information needed to vote as well as a polling station nearby if you are voting in person. At the polling station, an officer will ask for your name and address. After that, the officer will give you the ballot with the official print. To vote, you will fill in the box of the candidate of your choice. Then, the ballot is put in a security envelope, which is then put into a ballot box.

    For postal voting, the person must be registered under Individual Electoral Registration, which can be utilized after answering questions about identification, date of birth, address and nationality. These requirements are necessary in order to prevent voting fraud. Once registered under the Individual Electoral Registration, there will be a postal vote sent to the address provided under the registration 10 days before the election. To turn in this ballot people will need to go to a polling station or another election office, and from there it will be taken care of.

    There is also an option for voting where someone can delegate his or her vote to a representative; this is called proxy voting. This type of voting also needs registration and the representative will also have to be eligible/registered to vote. To apply for a proxy indefinitely there should be a reason, such as a disability, serving in the armed forces, or living overseas. There is a separate application in the event of a one-time proxy voter. The application will also require a reason for the person to be getting a proxy. To vote, the proxy will need to go to a polling station in the area where you are registered to vote, but the proxy can also apply to vote by post. In the case of the proxy choosing this option, the person who has a delegated proxy will not be able to change their mind and vote.

     Rank choice voting is different from other forms of voting. This form of voting doesn’t limit the person voting to only one candidate. The person voting can rank the candidates from first choice to their last choice. If the voter’s first-choice candidate is eliminated, their vote goes to their second-choice. In the case of none of the chosen candidates getting 50 percent or more, the candidate with the lowest percentage will be eliminated, and then the votes will be recounted. Rank choice voting has only been allowed in certain states and cities. Before choosing the form of voting, check if your state offers all forms of voting.

      The Electoral College has various factors that go into the popular vote and voting by congress. Every state is given a number of votes that is representative of the number of senators and representatives for each state. Each state has the same amount of senators, but the amount of representatives varies depending on the size of the population. Therefore, every state will have different amounts of votes. Out of all the states in the U.S. that follow the Electoral College, Nebraska and Maine are the only states that have a winner take all policy. The winner is chosen from the overall state-wide popular vote. Nebraska and Maine assign individual electors based on the winner of the popular vote for each Congressional district, and then two electors based on the winner of the overall state-wide popular vote. The total amount of counted electoral votes from all the states should add up to 538 electoral votes. The majority of votes needed for a President to be elected is 270 electoral votes.

    There are many different ways to vote for the upcoming elections, people can vote in person at their local polling station, in the mail through postal voting, having another person do it for them with proxy voting, or participating in rank choice voting. The U.S. Constitution states that there is voting by congress and voting by popular vote of qualified citizens, and this is known as the Electoral College.