A Guide to the US Elections



With the world waiting for the results of the US 2020 elections, it is important to understand how the election system works. Though it might seem complicated, the election system is actually quite straightforward. During election day, Americans will not elect their president but they will also vote for their federal, state, and local officials. Therefore, the following is a simple guide that will help you understand how the system works:

How is the winner decided?

Both of the candidates will compete to win electoral college votes. The electoral college is a system partly based on each state population. In the US, the citizens don’t get to directly vote for their candidate. The founders deliberately designed the system so voters can only directly elect members of the US Congress. This means that voters decide state-level contests rather than the national one.

Thus, the voters are now choosing for a slate of “electors”. These electors will then, after the votes are counted and certified, pledge to vote for a presidential and vice-presidential candidate.

Moreover, each state gets a certain number of electoral college votes. With a total of 538 votes, the candidates will have to get 270 or more votes in order to win. However, winning the nationwide popular vote doesn’t guarantee winning the electoral college. In fact, over the years, 5 candidates, who won the popular votes, ended up losing the election. The same thing happened with Hillary Clinton back in 2016.

Is the election only concerned with the presidency?

In addition to electing the president, the citizens will elect the congress members. The congress is made of the US House and US Senate. Usually, the Republicans control the 100-member US Senate, while the Democrats secure the US House.

Moreover, the US senate has 35 seats up for election this year out of the total 100. On the other hand, all 435 seats in the US House are up for election this time since they are reelected every two years. These seats will play a huge role in choosing the next president.

When will the results be announced?

Though it usually takes several days for all the votes to be counted, the outcome will be pretty clear by the early hours of the following morning.

However, so far, no one knows for certain. Officials are already warning of possible days or even weeks delay due to the expected surge in postal ballots. Furthermore, the last time the winner wasn’t clear within a few hours was in 2000. The Supreme Court had to step in and confirm a ruling a month later.

When does the winner take office?

Officially, the new president take the office after a ceremony known as the inauguration. It will take place on 20 January. After the inauguration, the elected president will move to the White House and start their four-year term in office.


BBC News. (2020, October 28). US election 2020: A really simple guide. https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2020-53785985Chaggaris, S. (2020, November 3). How does the US election work? US & Canada | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/3/election-day-guide-to-us-electionsChughtai, A. (2020, November 3). Everything you need to know about US elections – in infographics. US & Canada | Al Jazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/2/infographic-all-you-need-to-about-us-electionsUS election 2020: a guide to what will happen on Tuesday – and beyond. (2020, November 3). The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/03/us-election-2020-results-guide-what-will-happen


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