Explained: Process of counting votes in the presidential election of USA

Explained: Process of counting votes in the presidential election of USA

Context
Recently, votes were count in the presidential election of the USA. Here we discussed how the world’s oldest democracy counts their votes, and the reason behind the delay in the results.

Elections supervision in the US

  • In the USA, all elections whether it is federal, state, and local, are directly organised by the ruling governments of individual states.
  • As per the White House website, the US Constitution and laws grant the states wide latitude in how they administer elections, resulting in varying rules across the country.
  • In many US states, the responsibility of conducting elections falls on the state’s secretary of state i.e. a politician who in some states is directly elected and in others appointed by the state governor.

How US’ election process different from India?

  • The Constitution of India under Article 324 provides for a separate rule-making Election Commission that is independent of the executive in government.
    • Set up in 1950, it is charged with the responsibility of conducting polls to the offices of the President and Vice President of India, to Parliament, and to the state Assemblies and Legislative Councils.
    • In India, the ECI has been devised as an apolitical body.
  • US states vary widely when it comes to key electoral practices such as vote counting, postal voting and drawing constituencies.
    • Often, individual states are accused of providing an unfair advantage to one political party through practices such as gerrymandering.

Why counting votes in Election 2020 is taking time?

  • Although most US states allow electronic methods, paper ballots are the norm across the country.
  • Ahead of counting comes a stage called processing, which involves checking signatures, verifying documentation, and perhaps even scanning the ballots. Counting votes is a separate, and later, process.
  • Each state has its own date for starting in-person or mail-in voting, deadline for receiving the mail-in ballots, processing the ballots, and tabulating votes.

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