United States Presidential Election
The election of the President and the Vice President of the United States is an indirect vote in which citizens cast ballots for a slate of members of the U.S. Electoral College; these electors in turn directly elect the President and Vice President. Presidential elections occur quadrennially (the count beginning with the year 1792) on Election Day, the Tuesday between November 2 and 8, coinciding with the general elections of various other federal, states and local races. The most recent was the 2012 election, held on November 6. The next election will be the 2016 election, which will be held on November 8, 2016.
The process is regulated by a combination of both federal and state laws. Each state is allocated a number of Electoral College electors equal to the number of its Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress. Additionally, Washington, D.C. is given a number of electors equal to the number held by the smallest state. U.S. territories are not represented in the Electoral College.
Under the U.S. Constitution, each state legislature is allowed to designate a way of choosing electors. Thus, the popular vote on Election Day is conducted by the various states and not directly by the federal government. Once chosen, the electors can vote for anyone, but – with rare exceptions like an unpledged elector or faithless elector – they vote for their designated candidates and their votes are certified by Congress, who is the final judge of electors, in early January.
The nomination process, including the primary elections and the nominating conventions, was never specified in the Constitution, and was instead developed by the states and the political parties. This too is also an indirect election process, where voters cast ballots for a slate of delegates to a political party's nominating convention, who then in turn elect their party's presidential nominee.
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