America has one of the most complicated process of electing its President -- arguably the most powerful person on earth. Whether one likes it or not, America, its politicians, policies, and society have a great influence on rest of the world. As the saying goes: If America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold. It's a different matter if America realises this, and does something about it.
The election process
- BBC has excellent details elaborating the complicated electoral process. Click here to know everything about it.
Most states hold state-wide votes, called primaries, to determine their preferred candidates from the two main parties. Others use a slightly different procedure involving public meetings, called caucuses.
This is the process by which supporters of the Democratic or Republican parties, in each US state, say which candidate they would like to see representing their party in the November presidential election.
Each state gets to send a certain number of delegates to the parties' national conventions in August or September 2008. Bigger states have more delegates. During these national conventions each party's nominee is formally chosen.
The primaries and caucuses determine which candidate the delegates will vote for. Suppose, Obama has has got more votes than Hillary in Iowa. It means, more delegates, who have pledged support to Obama -- than who have pledged support to Hillary -- will be sent from that state, Iowa, to the Democratic party's national convention.
The candidate with the most delegates wins the nomination. Usually this becomes clear early on in the primary season. This year the winning candidates are expected to be known in February.
The Democrats will hold their convention in Colorado in late August. The Republicans will hold theirs in Minneapolis in early September. The presidential candidates will take part in TV debates on 26 September, and 7 and 15 October.
Voting takes place on November 8. Americans do not, technically, participate in a direct election of the president. It's the delegates / electors who actually select the president.
In almost every state, the winner of the popular vote -- on Nov 8 -- gets all the electoral college votes in that state, even if his or her majority is wafer thin. So it can happen that a candidate ends up with more electoral college votes than the rival candidate, and yet a smaller share, nationally, of the popular vote.