Elections in the United States
As opposed to many other countries, the president is elected indirectly in the USA. The "Electoral College" votes for a candidate, more or less in accordance with the public’s wishes. This system of electors originated in the 18th century, when the flow of information wasn’t as developed as it is today. The electors travelled through their states and tried to win the public over for a specific candidate.
The number of electors per state depends on the state’s population. This is why it is so important for the candidates to win over the bigger states. There are 538 electors. A candidate needs 270 votes to make it into the White House. Usually the candidate who has the most votes will receive all electors’ votes within one state. In Maine and Nebraska, however, the "congressional district method" is used. Broadly speaking, this means that the electors are distributed proportionally. The winner receives the electoral votes per senator of the state. The electoral votes of the congressional districts go to the winners of the districts. Therefore, the losing candidate can receive single electoral votes.
Who will be the next president of the United States?
Not just the president is elected on Election Day. Congress, gubernatorial and local elections as well as referenda are also held on that day. Votes are cast in different ways: via ballots, punched cards or computer systems. Often, the citizens have to be patient. Waiting for hours is quite usual as there are too many voters per polling station. Usually, the polling stations open at 6:00, only the twelve inhabitants of Dixville Notch already vote at midnight. "Poll closing" is usually between 18:00 and 21:00. Everyone who is still waiting in the polling station queue at that time, can still cast their votes. The time difference within the USA adds suspense to the vote count which often leads to the winner being announced late at night.
Hillary Clinton - Democrats
As First Lady she already had great influence on the decisions of her husband Bill Clinton. Afterwards, she started her own political career and was elected senator for the state New York (2001-2009). In 2007, she already entered the race for president but lost to Barack Obama, who then made her his Secretary of State (2009-2013). Now she was able to win the Democratic Party primaries against Bernie Sanders and has a good chance to become the first female president leading the USA.
Donald Trump - Republicans
Known as a TV personality, politics was a new stage for the businessman and multimillionaire. His candidacy for the Republicans came as a surprise for many but he soon won over the population. A number of blunders followed; nevertheless, he was able to prevail over names well known in politics like Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. They all renounced their candidacy after disappointing results in the primaries.