U.S. Presidential ElectionU.S. Presidential Election
Updated: Fri, 26 Oct 2012 20:15:00 GMT | By Tom Phillips
How America chooses a president

How do U.S. elections work?

How do U.S. elections work? (© Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
  • How do U.S. elections work? (© Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
  • The popular vote (© Adam Hunger/Reuters)
  • The electoral college (© Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
  • Winner takes all (© Getty Images)
  • Swing states (© Getty Images)
  • Path to the presidency (© Jim Young/Reuters)
  • Every vote counts? (© Marc Serota/Reuters)
  • The also-rans (© Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty ImagesShow Thumbnails
Previous1 of 8Next
Share this Gallery

On the surface, the system for electing U.S. presidents is fairly straightforward. Americans vote directly for the leader they want (rather than, as in some countries, voting for local representatives or parties in a parliament, who then elect their own leader). The American voters have only two major parties to choose from, so on Nov. 6 voters will be choosing either Barack Obama’s or Mitt Romney’s name on the ballot.  

But of course it’s not quite that simple ...

On Twitter


With several rescue teams dispatched in the hunt for the missing Malaysian plane, do you think it's time the search crews gave up?

Thanks for being one of the first people to vote. Results will be available soon. Check for results

    29 %
    Yes. There's no point in looking if they haven't found anything by now
    711 votes
    63 %
    No. They've come so far, they may as well keep going
    1,509 votes
    4 %
    106 votes
    4 %
    I dont know
    97 votes

Total Responses: 2,423
Not scientifically valid. Results are updated every minute.