After America had won its independence, it left Britain’s monarchic tradition behind. Instead, the founding fathers of the United States created a system in which the American people had the power to select their leader. This system, which began with the election of George Washington, the first U.S. President, in 1789, has seen many changes since its inauguration. In the early years only white men who owned property could vote, but slowly, as more and more amendments were added to the election rules, everyone over the age of 18 was allowed the same right.
Since the initial election, when George Washington stood unopposed and reluctant to take on the role, to today, when the run for office as president of the United States has developed into a fiercely fought, often hostile and extremely complicated battle between two candidates, things have changed a great deal.
Today the presidential term is four years. And since 1845, Election Day has been held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Long before the election takes place, however, candidates must be chosen and put forward by their respective parties for nomination as their runner for the role of President. This process consists of a series of primary elections and nominating conventions within these parties, of which there are only two- the Democrats and the Republicans.
The primary elections take place between the January and June prior to the general election in November. In the summer before the main election, voters in all U.S. territories cast ballots for a group of delegates for a political party’s nominating convention to choose from. Then that convention picks one person to go forward as the parties’ presidential nominee.
Once the main candidates for election have been chosen, the presidential nominees and their associated convention select a vice-presidential running mate to join with him or her on their campaign. These vice-presidential candidates help the presidential hopefuls with speeches and party promotion, and keep the presidential campaign trail going across the vast distances of all the States of America.
The 58th quadrennial U.S. Presidential Election will take place between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump on November 8th 2016.
Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.