2016 is a presidential general election year. The voters of the United States will choose a new President for the first time in 8 years on November 8th, 2016. Many events unique to a presidential election year will happen before the official Election Day.
Each of the political parties needs to choose their presidential candidate. Primary elections and caucuses begin February 1st, the date of the all-important Iowa caucus. They continue through June 14th and occur on different dates in each state. The two major parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, have very specific primary election procedures in each individual state.
Types of Primaries
Some of the primary elections are only for one party, and others are for both at the same time. In some states the primaries are closed, meaning that voters who are registered to either the Republican or Democratic Party will vote only for the candidates running within their own party. Voters who are not registered to a party or registered as Independent will have to wait until the general election in November to vote in those states with closed primaries. In other states the primaries are open and voters can choose any candidate on the primary ballot regardless of the voter’s registered party affiliation.
After June 14th, the caucuses and primaries will be complete and delegates from each state will be declared for the chosen candidate in their party. The delegates convene at two different conventions, which occur July 18 through July 21 in Cleveland, Ohio for the Republicans and July 25 through July 28 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the Democrats. These conventions include speeches by important party figureheads and help the party to publicize their platform, or their party’s stand, on issues facing the country in the next four years. The conventions culminate with the announcement of the party’s chosen candidate for President according to the vote of the majority of the delegate voters sent from each state. A Vice Presidential candidate will be chosen at the same time to complete the party ticket.
The new President and Vice President candidates for each party will then participate in a series of televised debates so that the country can watch the candidates speak about important issues and their plans for the country if they are elected. The first of these is scheduled for the September 26th for the Presidential candidates and the debates will continue through October. There is also traditionally one Vice Presidential candidate debate between the major party nominees for the Vice Presidency.
What Voters Can Expect
A Presidential election year is an exciting time for voters. It also comes with an increase in exposure to political media. Candidate advertisements on television, radio, and the Internet increase as the year progresses and parties solidify their tickets. Social media platforms are an important new method to get in touch with voters using their preferred medium, and they reach a wide audience. The traditional methods of political brochure and pamphlet mailings as well as telephone calls are a way for parties to inform voters about debates or local meetings in their area, especially if the voter is registered with a major party. Candidates will likely use all of these methods to try to reach the various voter demographics in this country.
The general election is held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, which this year falls on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016. The expected voter turnout in an election year is over 100 million Americans, and the last election saw over 50 percent of the voting age population going to the polls. The votes will be counted and each state will use those popular votes to decide which candidate will get their electoral votes. The number of electoral votes varies by state and is assigned prior to the election according to population. An absolute majority of the electoral votes determines the winner of the presidential election.
The country’s new President and Vice President will be announced when the votes are counted and the new leadership will officially take office on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017. +