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English Language Institute

Guide to the U.S. Presidential Election

Tuesday, November 3rd is a very big day for Americans, it is Election Day. Election Day takes place every year and is the day set by law that is designated for the election of public officials. It is always the second Tuesday in November.

This Election Day is very important because this year is the presidential election. The presidential election occurs every four years. On years when the Presidential Election is not taking place, Americans will vote to elect other types of public officials to office such as congressional representatives and senators.

This year presidential campaigning and Election Day will look a little different because of the pandemic but these are the main events leadings up to the presidential election, first is the nomination, next are months of campaigning and rallying to gain supporters and lastly there are presidential debates in the month leading up to Election Day.

The Presidential Nomination

votePlanning for Presidential elections typically begins a year before Election Day.

Roughly a year before Election Day both political parties, Democrats and Republicans, will united behind a chosen candidate from each party to run for president. Before the official nomination there are many candidates on both political party sides running for president. Usually by the end of spring or early summer the two presidential candidates are chosen and then begin campaigning for votes.

Presidential Campaigning

ballot The summer before the election is important for candidates because this is when they begin campaigning for votes and gain supporters.

America is a democracy, which means citizens get to choose who to vote for to become the next president. Both candidates will travel around the country, meet with Americans discuss their ideas and what changes they want to make in order to convince Americans to vote for them.

Usually both candidates will hold big campaign rallies (sometimes in big arenas, sometimes in large outdoor areas) to gather their supporters, drum up excitement, and share their ideas with voters. There were fewer rallies this year because of the pandemic.

Presidential Debates

Election Day in NYC 2016The last few major events leading up to Election Day are the presidential debates.

Presidential debates are held in front of an audience (although this year there was no audience) and are televised events between both candidates of each political party. During the debate, the candidates discuss their political opinion and public policy proposals in order to gain the vote of voters who are still undecided.

This year the first presidential debate was on September 29, the vice presidential debate was on October 7 and two more presidential debates are scheduled for October 15 and October 22.

After learning about each presidential candidate, watching the debates and choosing a candidate to support, Americans will head out to the polls, cast their votes and elect the next president of the United States.

In order to vote a person must be 18 years old, a US citizen and be registered to vote. In New York the polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. This year many Americans are choosing to vote by mail to avoid crowded polls.

It is expected that America will have the unofficial results of the election the next day but the official results might take a little longer this year than usual to make sure all mailed in ballots are counted.

Are you interested in learning more about the US elections? Study English at Pace University and experience full student life (online and/ or on campus) where there are several election events: visit the ELI website, contact the ELI or apply here.

Word List:

  • designate (n.): appoint to specific person
  • candidate (n.): a person who is nominated for election
  • drum up (phrasal verb): to bring about by persistent effort
  • debate (n.): a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly