A voting system or electoral system is a method by which voters make a choice between options, often in an election or on a policy referendum.
A voting system enforces rules to ensure valid voting, and how votes are counted and aggregated to yield a final result. Common voting systems are majority rule, proportional representation or plurality voting with a number of variations and methods such as first-past-the-post or preferential voting. The study of formally defined voting systems is called social choice theory or voting theory, a subfield of political science, economics, or mathematics.
The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses held in each U.S. state and territory is part of the nominating process of United States presidential elections. This process was never included in the United States Constitution, and thus was created over time by the political parties. Some states only hold primary elections, some only hold caucuses, and others use a combination of both. These primaries and caucuses are staggered between January and June before the general election in November. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events that are directly run by the political parties themselves. A state's primary election or caucus usually is an indirect election: instead of voters directly selecting a particular person running for President, it determines how many delegates each party's national convention will receive from their respective state. These delegates then in turn select their party's presidential nominee.
Each party determines how many delegates are allocated to each state. Along with those delegates chosen during the primaries and caucuses, state delegations to both the Democratic and Republican conventions also include "unpledged" delegates, usually current and former elected officeholders and party leaders, who can vote for whomever they want.
A primary election is an election that narrows the field of candidates before an election for office. Primary elections are one means by which a political party or a political alliance nominates candidates for an upcoming general election or by-election.
Primaries are common in the United States, where their origins are traced to the progressive movement to take the power of candidate nomination from party leaders to the people.
1988 · 1992 · 1996 · 2000 · 2004 · 2008 · 2012
Democratic: 1976 · 1992 · 2000 · 2004 · 2008 · 2012
Republican: 2000 · 2008 · 2012
Ames Straw Poll
In a parliamentary system, a general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.
In presidential systems, the term refers to a regularly scheduled election where both the president, and either "a class" of or all members of the national legislature are elected at the same time. A general election day may also include elections for local officials.