Nov 27, 2019
If you’ve slept a night or two since Civics class, be sure to
listen in to this part of their Election Bootcamp series as Sara
and Misasha bring us all up-to-date on the electoral vote, how the
voting process works, and why your vote DOES matter.
- The Presidential election is less than a year away, and the
primaries begin early next year.
- An election for President of the United States happens every
four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in
- The next Presidential election will be November 3rd, 2020.
- The election process begins with primary elections and
caucuses. These are the two methods that states use to select a
potential Presidential nominee. In general, primaries use secret
ballots for voting.
- Primary elections are held for most public offices when there
are multiple candidates, usually from the same party, seeking
- Primaries often offer a crucial opportunity for voters to weigh
in on the issues that matter to them the most.
- Most primaries are held February through June. Find out when
your state primary is!
- In many areas, the outcome of primary elections are really
important and have a huge impact on the outcome of general
- Very few voters actually go to the polls or use a mail-in
ballot for a primary election. If few voters go but these elections
are really important, then any increase in participation in the
primary election can have a significant impact.
- The rules for primaries are state-specific. Who can participate
in the primaries varies by state.
- Generally speaking, individuals designate the political party
whose primaries they will vote in when they register to vote or
update their voter registrations. Some states let you choose this
on election day.
- There are four different types of primaries:
- Open: where you can cast a vote in the primary regardless of
your political affiliation.
- Closed: only voters who are registered members of a political
party prior to the primary may participate in choosing that party’s
- Semi-Closed: voters who have not previously chosen a political
party have the option to choose which party primary to vote in.
Voters registered with a party may only vote in that party’s
- Top Two: voters select their choice for nomination from a list
of all candidates regardless of party affiliation. The two
candidates who receive the most votes become the candidates in the
- A minority of states hold a nominating caucus instead of a
primary. Instead of having secrets ballots a small group of party
leaders or a broader group of voters choose the party’s nominee for
the general election.
- Nominating conventions are where political parties each select
a nominee to unite behind.
- In the two major political parties, Republican and Democrat,
each Presidential nominee announces their Vice-Presidential running
mate at that time.
- For 2020 the Democratic National Convention (“DNC”) will be
held in July in Milwaukee, and the Republican National Convention
(“RNC”) will be held in late August in Charlotte.
- General Election Day is when you go to your polling place to
vote for President. The popular vote doesn’t determine the actual
winner of the election.
- The Electoral College: to win the election, a candidate must
receive the majority of the electoral votes. In the event no
candidate receives the majority, the House of Representatives
chooses the President, and the Senate chooses the
- The Constitution does not provide for the popular election of
the American President. It provides for the popular election of
Presidential electors. Each candidate who qualifies for a given
state's ballot must designate certain individuals who will serve as
his or her electors if that candidate wins the popular vote in that
- When each state certifies a winner of its overall popular vote,
that winner is entitled to send all of their electors to that
state’s Capitol, where they will officially record their votes for
the candidate, and all electors in all the states do this on the
same day, the first Monday after the second Wednesday of
- Maine and Nebraska have instituted a different system, whereby
they have given two electoral votes to the statewide winner and one
to the winner of each of the state’s congressional districts.
- A congressional district is an electoral constituency that
elects a single member of Congress. It is a physical area and based
on population, so census information is important.
- The Electoral College apportions votes to the states in a very
specific way: each state is given a number equal to its Senate
seats, which are always two, plus its seats in the House of
- The total number of Electoral College seats is 538. Since there
is an equal number of electoral votes, you could have an even
- NPR compiled a list in 2018 of many elections where ONE VOTE
was the deciding factor. Join Sara and Misasha’s email list to have
this mailed to you! Your vote counts!
- Sara and Misasha go over a Huffington Post article from 2016
that counts the reasons why people don’t vote.
- Why should you vote? Sara and Misasha cover the answers to this
- Voter suppression: why are certain states working so hard to
block minority votes? Sara and Misasha discuss the Southern Poverty
Law Center’s exposé on this subject.
- Keep listening! Sara and Misasha will unpack more key issues on
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Dear White Women - Episode 34
Election Bootcamp Kickoff: How the F* Do I Make Sense of What’s
Coming in 2020?
One-Stop-Shop for Voter Information
Brought to You by The League of Women Voters’ Education
Federal Election Committee on Twitter!