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In a democracy, leaders are elected by its citizens. The election process, while complicated, ensures that citizens are informed about the candidates or people running for the various jobs.
The first step in an election is for candidates to be nominated by a party. For the presidential candidates, the process begins by a person obtaining signatures on a petition for he or she to be president. For a person to be president, they must have petitions from every state with thousands of signatures.
Next the candidate must campaign or travel about the country telling why he or she should be elected. The candidate usually has a slate or list of ideas that he/she will act on if elected. Usually a candidate runs for a political party. A political party is a huge organization of people who have similar ideas about how the country should be governed. The two main parties in our country are the Democrat and Republican parties. In the states there are pre-elections or primaries that help narrow the group of candidates seeking election.
Each political party then has a convention to come up with the candidate for president from that party. The conventions are usually in the summer before the November elections.
At the convention the candidates make speeches about their ideas. Each state sends people to vote on who the candidate for the party should be. Then if a candidate gets enough votes from the convention participants, he or she is the official candidate or nominee of the party.
The nominee then must travel around the country and campaign for the job. They try to convince the citizens that their ideas are the best for the country and that they would be the best person to be president.
Most candidates are elected directly by the people. Presidents are elected indirectly by a group called the Electoral College. The number of people in the Electoral College from each state is equal to the number of representatives from each state plus two for the senatorial seats. The electors in the Electoral College vote as the people in the state vote for the president. Therefore, if most of the people in the state vote for one candidate over the other, the Electoral College votes for that candidate. Thus if majority of the people from New York vote for a candidate, the Electoral College members from that state vote for that candidate.
Elections are held on the first Tuesday in November. In order for a person to be able to vote in our country, he/she must be eighteen years old and a citizen of the United States. The person must also be registered to vote in his town, city.etc. This ensures that people have only one vote in the election.