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The Long Campaign


· Guide to the 2008 Elections
· PBS: By the People - Election 2008
· NPR: Election 2008
· PBS Online NewsHour: Vote 2008
· Federal Election Commission
· VOA: The Road to the 2008 US-Elections
· Council on Foreign Relations: Campaign 2008
· Brookings Institute: Campaign Finance
· Foreign Press Center: 2008 Elections
· The Green Papers: General Election USA 2008
Outline of U.S. Government: The Role of the Citizen CD
· What is Democracy? - Elections
Politics1: Presidency 2008 & 2004
· LoC: Presidential Elections and the Electoral College
· NARA: US Electoral College
· Infoplease: U.S. Elections
Electronic Journal: Issues of Democracy- Elections Guide 2004 CD
· USINFO Journal: Elections 2004 CD

Information in German
· Politische Umfragen: Warum wir einfach nicht ohne sie auskommen
· Häufig gestellte Fragen zu den US-Wahlen
· Der amerikanische Wähler im Wandel
· Wie laut hallt der Caucus?
· Neue Wahltechnologien: Problem oder Lösung?
· eJournal 2008 Artikel: Die Wahlen zum Kongress
· USINFO Journal: Wahlen 2004
MagazinUSA: Die Präsidentschaftswahlen

CRS Report
· Elections Reform: Overview and Issues
· Presidential Nominating Process: Current Issues
· Presidential Elections in the United States: A Primer
· The Electoral College: Overview and Analysis of Reform Proposals
· The Electoral College: How It Works in Contemporary Presidential Elections

Original Documents
· U.S. Department of Justice: Voting Rights Laws
LoC: The Proceedings of the Electoral Commission of 1877

· Washington Post: Politics Multimedia
· MBC: The Great Debate & Beyond: The History of Televised Presidential Debates
· Museum of the Moving Image: The Living Room Candidate. History of Presidential Campaign Commercials
· C-SPAN: Road to the White House
· Internet Archive: Election 2004 Video Archive

Exhibits - Digital Images
· America Votes - Campaign Memorabilia
· Smithsonian: Vote - The Machinery of Democracy

Statistics, Maps & Polls
· Dave Leip's Atlas of Presidential Elections
· Polling Report: Election 2008
· Office of the Clerk: Election Statistics
U.S. Census Bureau: Voting and Registration
· Statistical Abstracts 2006: Elections
·Facts for Features: Presidential Election 2004
· Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of Nov.7, 2000
· Presidential Election Maps 1789-2000

About the USA: Elections 2008
About the USA: Elections 2004
Virtual Classroom: Midterm Elections


Presidential Elections

The United States Constitution stipulates that a presidential election is to be held once every fourth year. The process of electing a president and vice-president, however, begins long before election day.

The nominating process within the political parties officially begins with the first state primaries and caucuses, which usually occur in the month of February of the election year. These primaries and caucuses choose slates of delegates (usually pledged to support particular candidates) to represent the state at the national party conventions. At the national party conventions, traditionally held in the summer, the delegates from the states cast votes to select the party's candidate for president. On election day -- the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November of an election year -- every citizen of legal age who has taken the steps necessary in his or her state to meet the voting requirements (such as registering to vote) has an opportunity to vote. However, the president is not formally chosen by direct popular vote. The constitution calls for a process of indirect popular election known as the electoral college.

The Electoral College
The political parties (or independent candidates) in each state submit to the chief election official a list of electors pledged to their candidate for president and equal in number to the state's electoral vote. Each state is allocated a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. senators (always 2) plus the number of its U.S. representatives.

Following election day, on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, these electors assemble in their state capitals, cast their ballots, and officially select the next president. As a rule, whichever presidential ticket gets the most popular votes in a state wins all of that state's electors (except in Maine and Nebraska). The president-elect and vice president-elect take the oath of office and are inaugurated on January 20th.

Congressional Elections
The Congress is divided into two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senate is composed of two members from each state, as provided by the Constitution. Its current membership is 100. Senators are elected to serve six-year terms; every two years one third of the Senate is up for reelection. Before 1913, senators were chosen by their state legislatures, as the Founding Fathers believed that since the senators represented the state, the state legislature should elect them. The 17th amendment to the constitution changed this procedure, mandating that senators be elected directly by the voters of their state. When the first Congress met in 1789, there were 59 members of the House of Representatives. As the number of states increased and the population grew, the number of representatives increased significantly. A law passed in 1911 fixed the size of the House of Representatives at 435 members. Members of the House are up for reelection every two years. The number of representatives in each state depends upon its population as reported in the nation's most recent census. Each state is divided into a corresponding number of congressional districts. There is a representative for every congressional district, elected by the voters residing in that district.

State and Local Government
Like the national government, state governments have three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial; these are roughly equivalent in function and scope to their national counterparts. The chief executive of a state is the governor, elected by popular vote, typically for a four-year term (although in a few states the term is two years). Except for Nebraska, which has a single legislative body, all states have a bicameral legislature, with the upper house usually called the Senate and the lower house called the House of Representatives, the House of Delegates, or the General Assembly. Types of city governments vary widely across the nation. However, almost all have some kind of central council, elected by the voters, and an executive officer, assisted by various department heads, to manage the city's affairs.

See also: > Frequently Asked Questions > English > German
About the USA > U.S. Government > Political Parties
InfoAlert > Elections



Link Lists

· Public Agenda: Campaign Reform
· Democratic Convention Guide 2008
· Guide to the 2008 Elections
· Election Reform Information Project
New York Times: Election Guide 2008 & 2006
· Washington Post: Politics - Campaign 2008
· Foreign Press Centers: Elections 2008 & 2004
· University of Michigan: Elections 2008, 2006 & 2004
· Open Race for the White House
Democracy in Action: Race for the White House 2008
· U.S. Election Assistance Commission
· Politics1: Presidency 2008
· Holding Politicians Accountable
· CNN: Election Center 2008
· Google Web Directory: U.S. > Government > Elections
· Yahoo! Full Coverage: Election08 - Presidential Election
· Yahoo! Full Coverage: Election 2004
· Presidential


For High School Students

· Ben's Guide to the Election Process
· Fact Monster: Elections
· How Stuff Works: How the Electoral College Works
· How Stuff Works: How E-Voting Will Work

· How Stuff Works: How Presidential Debates Work
· How Stuff Works: What is the Difference Between Soft Money and Hard Money?

Teacher Resources
· PBS: Vote 2008 - Lesson Plans
· NYT: Elections in the United States - Lesson Plans
· Scholastic: Teaching About Election 2008
· LoC: Elections...The American Way
· abcTeach:Elections Theme Unit
· NYT: The Electoral Process Crossword Puzzle
· Education World: The Presidential Campaign Game
· Project Vote: Mock Election
PBS: Steps in Selecting a President
· NARA: Tally of the 1824 Electoral College Vote
· This Nation: Voting in America
· Congress Link: Winning the Seat - A Congressional Election Simulation
Smithsonian: Winning the Vote. Lesson Plan
PBS: Why Vote
Project Vote Smart: Election Vocabulary

Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.
Any reference obtained from this server to a specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.
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Updated: March 10, 2009