The Voting Process For Dummies

The Voting Process For Dummies

The role your vote plays in the presidential election.
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Maybe I missed this part of my high school government class while I was dozing in the back row, but I don't ever remember being taught about America's voting system. In fact, it seems that most of the population doesn't really understand how the whole thing works. I've actually heard a fair number of people say that they aren't voting simply because they don't understand how it all works. Ignorance is not bliss when the future of a country is at stake, people! Consider this a crash course in exercising your Constitutional rights. Here's a simple breakdown of America's voting system and where each vote comes into play.

What's your role?

When we head to the polls on Election Day, your vote falls into the popular vote (the votes cast by everyday citizens in a local, state, national, or presidential election). Election Day happens every 4 years after the first Monday of the month (so this year, it falls on November 8). At the end of Election Day, the popular votes are counted for each presidential candidate from each respective state. These votes are then used by the Electoral College to decide the next President of the United States. Voting is normally done at a local polling station, but exceptions can be made in the form of absentee ballots.

If you're unable to be at your designated polling location on Election Day, you can cast your vote by mail using an absentee ballot. The absentee ballot application can be downloaded, printed, mailed, or emailed to your local polling place.Time restrictions vary by state, but it is best to complete the application process a few months before the election. Once approved, the voter will receive a ballot in the mail to be mailed back before Election Day. The absentee ballot votes will be counted among the popular votes.

How did we get these candidates?

Primaries are how we elect a candidate to run for the presidency on behalf of each political party. They occur in the year leading up to the official presidential nomination. Each state has its own presidential primary at a different time throughout the year. All of the current candidates for president are listed on the ballot, and voters in their respective states vote for the candidate that they want.

At the end of the day, the winners of the respective Democratic and Republican ballots are announced for that state. Those candidates then receive a certain number of delegate votes from that particular state's delegates depending on how many popular votes each candidate received. Normally, as primary season progresses, a candidate from each party will emerge as a frontrunner in terms of number of delegate votes. There are also a handful of delegates called superdelegates who can pledge their vote at any time. A certain number of delegate votes is required for a candidate to be able to become the presidential nominee for their respective party.

So basically, the delegates look at the popular vote in the primary to gauge how their state feels about a certain candidate, and they pledge their vote accordingly. When a candidate wins more delegate votes, it gets them closer to being the official nominee, and also provides them with a bit of good press attention.

So how does someone get elected to be President?

Most people know that the Electoral College elects the president. What most people don't know is how the electoral voting process works.

The Electoral College is essentially an amplified version of the popular vote. The state votes for electors and those electors vote for a presidential candidate based on the vote of the people in that state.

The Electoral College was created after Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for the presidential election in 1800. The system is meant to prevent a tie from occurring in the popular vote. The Electoral College is also meant to correct for votes cast by uninformed voters that could skew the results.

Every state chooses their electors differently. Most states’ electors are nominated or voted for in an elector primary. The chosen electors are expected to cast a vote that reflects the wishes of the majority of their state’s popular votes- so basically, they vote according to the majority popular vote, which is your vote! (See, your vote still matters)

Each state has a certain number of electors based on the state’s population. A state is awarded two electors for its two Senators as well as an additional elector for each U.S. Representative that the state has in Congress. For example, California, a very populated state, gets 55 electoral votes, while Ohio, a less populous state, gets 18.

For every state, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, the electors must cast their vote according to the winner of the popular vote in that state. (Maine and Nebraska divide their states into districts and award one electoral vote to each candidate for every district that they win.) The candidate with the most popular votes throughout the state receives the remaining two electoral votes. So for example, if Candidate A wins the popular vote in California, they receive those 55 electoral votes. The presidential candidate with the most electoral votes wins the election.

Wow, does my vote even count?

With such a complex voting system, it's easy to think that a single vote won't make a difference. The problem is, for every one person thinking that way, there’s hundreds more that feel the same way. As it turns out, mere hundreds of votes are all it takes to change history. Just ask Al Gore.

A miscount of votes in Florida during the presidential election of 2000 could have changed American history forever. George Bush and Al Gore were neck-and-neck in the race of 2000, and it all came down to Florida. In a rare turn of events, Al Gore won the popular vote in this election, but George Bush won the electoral vote and became president.

Although Al Gore was winning the popular vote, George Bush had won the electoral votes in the larger states. Al Gore’s loss is widely attributed to a miscount of a few hundred popular votes in Florida. Had the votes been counted properly, it is highly likely that Al Gore would have won Florida’s electoral votes instead of Bush, and would therefore, have won the election.

It all came down to a few hundred votes. If the votes had been counted properly, or if a few more people had shown up to vote for Al Gore, the world could be a very different place today.

The American voting system might seem confusing, but being able to live in a democracy, where everyone has a voice, is not something to be taken for granted. Many citizens in other countries will never have the right to vote, yet many American citizens will not take the time to let their voice be heard. Taking the time to vote a few times a year, whether it's in a local or national election, is just a small way to repay those who have lost their lives for the sake of democracy. Voting in the upcoming presidential election, and in future elections, means taking a part in building the future of America.


If you want to learn more about the upcoming election, it's never too late! Check out theSkimm's Skimm the Vote page for a comprehensive guide to this election season.

Cover Image Credit: PBS Newshour

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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8 Types Of People Fetuses Grow Into That 'Pro-Lifers' Don't Give 2.5 Shits About

It is easy to fight for the life of someone who isn't born, and then forget that you wanted them to be alive when you decide to hate their existence.

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For those in support of the #AbortionBans happening all over the United States, please remember that the unborn will not always be a fetus — he or she may grow up to be just another person whose existence you don't support.

The fetus may grow up to be transgender — they may wear clothes you deem "not for them" and identify in a way you don't agree with, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them a mentally unstable perv for trying to use the bathroom.

The fetus may grow up to be gay — they may find happiness and love in the arms of someone of the same gender, and their life will mean nothing to you when you call them "vile" and shield your children's eyes when they kiss their partner.

The fetus may grow up and go to school — to get shot by someone carrying a gun they should have never been able to acquire, and their life will mean nothing to you when your right to bear arms is on the line.

The fetus may be black — they may wear baggy pants and "look like a thug", and their life will mean nothing to you when you defend the police officer who had no reason to shoot.

The fetus may grow up to be a criminal — he might live on death row for a heinous crime, and his life will mean nothing to you when you fight for the use of lethal injection to end it.

The fetus may end up poor — living off of a minimum wage job and food stamps to survive, and their life will mean nothing to you when they ask for assistance and you call them a "freeloader" and refuse.

The fetus may end up addicted to drugs — an experimentation gone wrong that has led to a lifetime of getting high and their life will mean nothing to you when you see a report that they OD'd and you make a fuss about the availability of Narcan.

The fetus may one day need an abortion — from trauma or simply not being ready, and her life will mean nothing to you as you wave "murderer" and "God hates you" signs as she walks into the office for the procedure.

* * *

Do not tell me that you are pro-life when all of the above people could lose their lives in any way OUTSIDE of abortion and you wouldn't give 2.5 shits.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is gay or trans, you will berate them for who they are or not support them for who they love.

You fight for the baby to be born, but if he or she is poor or addicted, you will refuse the help they desperately need or consider their death a betterment of society.

You fight for the baby to be born, but when the used-to-be-classroom-of-fetuses is shot, you care more about your access to firearms than their lives.

It is easy to pretend you care about someone before they are even born, and easy to forget their birth was something you fought for when they are anything other than what you consider an ideal person.

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