US Elections 2020: All you need to know

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US elections 2020: The race for the White House explained

The race for the White House is well and truly on, with millions of Americans expected to turning out to vote in this year's presidential election.

A record number have already cast their ballots in advance.

The result will have big consequences globally, the President of the United States is considered to be one of the most powerful people in the world.

Flag-of-the-USAGetty Images
So what's happening?

There are two people that US voters can choose from to be the next president of their country - current president, Donald Trump representing the Republican party and Joe Biden who represents the Democrats.

Trump surprised the world when he was elected president in 2016, and will be hoping to win a second term in office by winning in 2020.

As president, a person can only serve a maximum of two terms and eight years in the White House.

Democrat, Joe Biden was vice president to President Barack Obama during his eight years in office.

Both Biden and Trump took part in televised debates on 29 September and 22 October.

The debates are crucial during the final run-in of the election campaign and are one of the few times the two candidates ever appear in the same space together.

Unlike the UK, which has lots of political parties, in the US there are only the two parties; the Republicans and Democrats - considered by most voters as the only two realistic options.

Although there are sometimes other "third-party" candidates, every president since 1853 has been either Republican or Democrat.

The head-to-head debates between the two presidential candidates from each party have been happening for more than 70 years and have been shown on TV since 1956.

Normally it's tradition for the political rivals to shake hands, but this year that didn't happen because of coronavirus.

The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave home of the President of the United States of America in Washington DC USAGetty Images
The White House, in the American capital of Washington DC, is the home of the President of the United States of America

During the debates, the candidates were asked about a range of topics including the pandemic, the economy and race relations.

The first 2016 debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump attracted a television audience of 84 million, becoming the second most-watched television show of that year behind the Super Bowl.

A debate between the running mates of each candidate, who hope to become vice president took place on 7 October.

Joe Biden has chosen California senator Kamala Harris as his pick for VP, she's the first black woman and south Asian American to ever be nominated for the position.

President Donald Trump has chosen his current deputy, Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate.

Democratic donkey and Republican elephant
A donkey has come to be a symbol of the Democratic party, while an elephant represents the Republicans
How does the US election work?

The US election happens every four years on the first Tuesday of November, with this year's election on 3 November 2020.

Lots of people have used postal votes to make their choice this year as they want to avoid others at polling stations during the coronavirus pandemic. However there are some concerns in the US, raised by Donald Trump, that these votes will not be counted properly.

What is the electoral college?
America - Divided into all fifty states and and labelled.Getty Images
The bigger the state by population, means the more influence they will have in the election

The person who goes on to become president must win what is known as the electoral college.

Americans living in each state vote for people called 'electors' who support the candidate they want to be president, in this case either Joe Biden or Donald Trump.

The more people who live in a state, means the more electors that state has. So California, which has lots of people living there, has 55 votes. While Alaska, where there aren't as many people, has just three votes.

In total, there are 538 votes across the 50 states and the capital, Washington DC.

The candidate with the most electors on his or her side wins all of the state's electoral college votes.

And the first candidate to win enough states to get to 270 electoral votes becomes the president.

It was this system that saw Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to become president in 2016. While Mrs Clinton received 2.87 million more votes, Mr Trump won in the bigger states, meaning he received 304 electoral college votes to Mrs Clinton's 227.

Biden-Trump
What are the big issues?

The US has had demonstrations across the country this year in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed while being stopped by police.

President Trump's reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests, as well as his response to the coronavirus pandemic and the Californian wildfires will be called into question by Joe Biden.

However Mr Trump is likely to call-out Biden on issues such as the economy, immigration, gun-control laws and his own suitability to do the job.

At 78-years-old, Joe Biden would be the oldest US president in history. Mr Trump is four years younger at 74.

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