This article is a little outdated but I thought I would post it to the blog this week as a different read, it is related to recent events in America. Enjoy! The article was written in November 2020, a week after a victory was declared for current US president Joe Biden.
Well, what an extraordinary year 2020 has been for many of us, impacting us in some way or shape, and for many defining our future! One of the biggest news stories alongside COVID-19 has been the political events that have happened in the US; for many the biggest election in the history of the United States. That’s right, earlier this month over 155 million people voted and used their political voice, the biggest voter turnout ever in the US. Not only this, but a fantastic historical achievement was made; Kamala Harris became the first elected female vice president - an achievement definitely worth celebrating from across the pond!
With it being the most talked about and publicised election ever you might be wondering how exactly the US voting system works? According to the American constitution (a long document containing all the laws and legislature for a country), a presidential election is held every four years. In these elections, American citizens are not directly voting for a president but for state electors, who then (mostly) deliver a result reflective of their state. Therefore, the votes for each candidate are added up and that’s the popular vote. However, if it were as easy as that, President Trump most probably would have been out of the picture in 2016.
The US Electoral system is not based on the popular vote but the Electoral College vote. Each American state holds a number of votes depending on how many Congressional districts they have. For example, California holds 55 electoral votes whereas its neighbour Nevada holds six. Once everyone has voted, and the popular votes are added up, the votes for candidates per state are then added. These amount to the nationwide total, which out of 538 Electoral College votes, 270 are needed to win. Some states, known as the ‘Battleground States’ have no premeditated result or turnout due to competitive campaigning. In the 2020 election, these included Arizona, Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Nevada. Here, the vote may ‘swing’ either way.
The United States is mainly considered as a two-party system. It’s big two parties are the Democrats, with Joe Biden as their representative, and the Republicans, with Donald Trump as theirs. The Democrats are more liberal than the Republican party, which is considered to be more conservative. Smaller parties, which still appear on US ballot papers include the Libertarian Party and the Green party (not too dissimilar to the UK’s Green party), although these are seen to not have as much political influence as the big two.
So how does all this relate to the 2020 election? This was a year like no other with a record number of postal votes as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, on Tuesday 3rd November, voters who didn’t vote postally could vote on the day within their local community. Usually, all the votes would be counted and there would be a clear result the next morning, but due to postal votes, a clear winner was not determined until Saturday 7th November.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with a deeper insight into the US election and simplified the ins and outs of a very complicated system.