States Select Delegates
Most states use a presidential primary to select delegates. Some use a series of caucuses and conventions. Candidates are chosen at local caucuses, narrowed at district conventions and finalized at state conventions. Delegates from each state go to national conventions, where they announce the party's official candidate.
The People Vote
On the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, the American people vote. In general, the president is elected in a two-step process. The first step is carried out by the electorate of the nation and the second by a group of people called the "Presidential Electors." The system, the Electoral College System, is designed to ensure the indirect election of the president. For general information about the system, visit the National Archives Electoral College exhibit.
Citizens Select Electors
Citizens vote for the presidential and vice presidential team of their choice, but are really selecting "electors" who will actually elect the president and vice president of the United States. The chosen electors of each state will meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December to cast their votes for president and vice president.
A president is elected if he or she receives an absolute majority of the electoral votes cast. If no majority is received, the House of Representatives selects the winner from the top three candidates. The vice president is selected in the same fashion, but in a separate vote. If no candidate receives the majority vote, the United States Senate selects the winner from the top two candidates.