Happy Election Year! by Gretchen Hamel

The beginning of the year is always a fresh start. But all fresh starts come with more than a hint of unpredictability. That’s never truer than in an election year. We know the White House horse race will be at thecenter of the daily news cycle for some time yet. Here are four facts you should know about the nominating process and the race for the White House:

1. President Obama has no primary challenger, so there aren’t the same number of news reports about the Democratic race as there are about the Republican nomination. Having said that, there are still some formalities to the process that have to be completed.

2. The Democrat National Convention will be held in Charlotte, NC in August. This is where President Obama will formally be nominated as the Democratic nominee for President by the state delegates from around the nation.

3. There a number of candidates vying for the Republican nomination. The leading candidate, who won Iowa and New Hampshire, is Mitt Romney. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, current Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and Congressman Ron Paul are still in the race, yet have an uphill battle.

4. To win the Republican nomination, one of these candidates must win a majority of the 2,286 delegates. The process for winning delegates is carried out through a series of caucuses and primaries. That process started in Iowa and will end with the delegates casting their ballots at the Republican convention in Tampa, FL in very late August. Thus far, only 37 of the 2,286 delegate votes have been decided. So while some think the nomination may be locked up soon, the earliest the majority of votes could be won by a candidate is not until late April.

Here are three things you need to know about the General Election for President

1. Make Your Voice Heard – VOTE!
After turning 18, U.S. citizens have the right to a voice who will lead our nation. You can find out if you are registered or register to vote at Rock the Vote.

2. Electoral College: How We Elect Our President
The U.S. is made up of large and small states, both in terms of land mass and population. The founding fathers set up a system that reflected the differing measures of each state. Thus, U.S. presidents are not directly elected by the popular vote. Instead, they are voted into office by the electors of each state. Electors are allotted based on the population of each state – for example, New York has 31 and Oklahoma has seven. A nominee must win a majority of these electors, who comprise the electoral college, to become president. The electoral college is composed of 538 votes so a candidate must win the votes of 270 electors to become president.

3. Election Day
On Tuesday, November 6, the nation will head to the polls to vote. Find out when and where to vote at ElectionLand.

Are you going to be out of town on November 6 or would you just like to vote ahead of time? Electionland has information on absentee and early voting as well.

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