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Dear White Women

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. 

Show Highlights:

  • 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 November.
  • 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 office.
  • 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 elections.
  • 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 candidates.
  • 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 primary.
  • 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 general election.
  • 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 Vice-President.
  • 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 state.
  • 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 December. 
  • 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 Representatives.
  • The total number of Electoral College seats is 538. Since there is an equal number of electoral votes, you could have an even split.
  • 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 question, too!
  • 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 future episodes!

Resources / Links:


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