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Inside the Americas

Race to the White House: Rules of US election process explained

By: Genie GODULA Follow | Agnès LE COSSEC | Sonia BARITELLO | Stéphane BERNSTEIN
13 min

Ahead of Election Day on November 3, we're answering your questions about the US presidential election and in particular the Electoral College. It's one of the most confusing aspects about the US election process. Many Americans themselves don't understand how it works, or even why it's still around. In five presidential elections so far – including the last one in 2016 – the eventual winner lost the popular vote, but won thanks to the Electoral College. We explain how it works.


FRANCE 24's Cole Stangler also tells us about the swing states that could prove decisive in this year's election. He also explains why the US election is a two-horse race.

Plus, we explain how postal ballots work for both expats and people in the US. A record number of skittish Americans have done mail-in voting, in large part due to the pandemic. Critics like President Donald Trump say the system could lead to fraud by letting people vote more than once, via absentee ballots and then in person on the day. But numerous nationwide and state-level studies over the years have shown there's never been any evidence of widespread fraud.

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