The long road to Election Day


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Play your part in the political process

In 2016, UAW members from across the country will take part in highly visible elections. From voting, to canvassing, to phone banking, to talking about issues with friends, family and coworkers — you have a big part to play in helping to define the direction of our country moving forward. So how does it all work?

In the presidential election, the two major parties host a series of statewide primaries and caucuses  to help decide who that state’s delegates should support at a party convention. This year, the Democrats will host their convention in Philadelphia while the Republicans will host theirs in Cleveland.

If a state holds primaries, then voters turn out for a secret ballot election to vote for their preferred nominee. After the votes are tallied, delegates are assigned to the candidates based on predetermined rules.

In the Democratic primaries, delegates are allocated to candidates based on the proportion of the vote total they won. However, in Republican primaries, some states are proportional and some are winner-take-all. A winner-take-all state means that whoever wins the most votes, even if it isn’t  a majority of the votes, can win all of a state’s delegates. Proportional states divide votes according to the vote through individual state-based rules.

Caucuses work a little bit differently. In a caucus, voters come together to publicly declare their support for a candidate. Because it is not a secret ballot election, caucus-goers frequently try to persuade each other to switch candidates on the spot, a practice that is often prohibited within a certain radius of the polling place as “electioneering” in primary states.

Each state’s caucus has unique rules, but, in most cases, caucus-goers are electing delegates to state  or county conventions. County conventions elect delegates to the state convention, and delegates to the state convention ultimately make decisions about how to apportion that state’s delegates among the different candidates.

Ultimately, the nominee of each major party is selected by delegates at the party’s convention.

A Republican candidate needs 1,237 delegates to win the party’s nomination. Democratic candidates need 2,383 delegates. Some of the delegates on the Democratic side may be “superdelegates,” who are party leaders such as governors and members of Congress who make up about 15 percent of the party’s 4,763 total convention delegates.

After the parties select their nominees, voters across the country get the chance to go cast their ballots on Nov. 8. Candidates will vie to win the popular vote in states, which then send electors to the Electoral College based on the size of their congressional delegation. The Electoral College actually elects the president and vice president of the United States.

Candidates need 270 votes in the Electoral College to win.

But, 2016 is not just about electing a new president. In fact, all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and one third of the U.S. Senate are also chosen this year. Many important state and local races will be happening as well.

It’s important to keep all of these races in mind, not just the presidential election. Often, the decisions that have the greatest impact on working families are those made by state and local officials.

If you’re ready to register to vote, get involved, or see who UAW members like you are supporting, then visit and search for your state. For more information on how you can get involved in the process, contact your region.

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