With the campaigning coming to a close today, Americans will vote to elect the next President of the United Station on November 3 even as the country struggles to manage the raging coronavirus pandemic, slumping economy, and extreme political divisions.
The 2020 US Presidential election is being touted as one of the most crucial elections of the new century.
While the voters will cast their votes on November 3, the results will begin pouring in from the same night.
Here is everything you need to know about the 2020 US Presidential election
Who are the candidates?
The two candidates running for office include sitting President Donald Trump, who aims to continue his 2016 campaign "Make America Great Again," and former vice-president in the Obama administration, Joe Biden. While Trump has been a businessman turned politician, Biden boasts of nearly four decades in public service including two VP stints in the White House under Barack Obama. The two have been rebuking and attacking each other with Trump pushing for an investigation into businesses of Biden's son Hunter.
Voting during a pandemic
As cases surge across the United States, which is witnessing the third and the worst wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, authorities have decided to go for mail-in voting and early voting to avoid crowds and large gathering on election day. Mail-in voting means to cast your vote and sending it through the postal service. Voters can drop the sealed envelope containing their votes in the election drop box Election officials collect those ballots and take them to polling locations for counting.
More than 90 million Americans have cast ballots in the 2020 election, according to a tally on Saturday from the US Elections Project at the University of Florida, setting the stage for the highest participation rate in over a century. Trump has been attacking institutions over the mail-in ballot, alleging fraud, and hinting that he might not consider the results accurate if he loses. The US President has also hinted at a tough transition if he loses to Biden.
Joe Biden delivers remarks at a voter mobilization event at Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina. Photo: Reuters
How does the US elect a president - The electoral college method
When it comes to elections, the rules are a bit different in the US. The US president is not elected by popular vote but by the electoral college. The electoral college has 538 electors. To become the president, a candidate must secure a simple majority (270) in the electoral college.
The number of electors (who make up the electoral college) in each state is in proportion to the state's population. Voters in each state vote for the candidates and the candidate who wins a majority of votes in the state wins all the electoral votes. Therefore if Biden wins 51% votes in California, he would claim all 55 electoral college votes from California.
To become a president, the candidate needs a minimum of 270 votes in the electoral college.
As part of the norms, each state is worth a number of electors proportionate to its representation in Congress. The six biggest states are California (55), Texas (38), New York (29), Florida (29), Illinois (20) and Pennsylvania (20). This system gives greater weight to smaller states.
US President Donald Trump removes his face mask to speak from the Blue Room Balcony of the White House to a crowd of supporters, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
However, if no single candidate receives the majority of electoral votes, then the House of Representatives will elect the president from the top three candidates. During the 2016 presidential elections, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the electoral college to Trump.
Post result rush
Hours after the results are announced, the winning candidate is declared as "President-Elect" and is put under the protection of the US Secret Service. In the days following the result, the winning candidate works in tandem with the outgoing administration for a smooth transition, finalises the names for his cabinet, and slowly begins pushes for his agenda more openly as the outgoing administration packs up from the White House.
The President takes the oath of office on January 20 to take charge of the country.