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General Election

A general election is a political process in which voters participate in determining which nominated candidate will hold office. Primary elections are held first to narrow the field of candidates and then the general election is used to elect the winning candidate to office.

When political parties challenge each other for a seat in an election, the challenging candidates are given the opportunity to compete against each other in a final election. The winner, based on a tally of all votes cast, is declared and that person is cleared to take office.

In most cases, a general election is comprehensive and held within the jurisdiction of that particular office in which voters can cast their votes during that day or earlier if they use mail in ballots. General elections may be statewide, national, or both at the same time.

In the United States, a general election is held to seat Members of Congress, the House of Representatives, and the President and Vice President. It is usually held after the primary election in a campaign to determine which candidate will win the office in contention.

The general election for president is usually held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years. This day is generally called election day.

Based in reference to the most recent census count, and determined by overall population, each state is designated a certain number of electoral votes. In turn, each states' population is represented by the number of that particular states' congressional representatives.

Each state has at least 2 senators and 1 congressperson. In a presidential election, the winner of that state gets it's electoral votes, thereby giving that candidate the presidency even if he, or she, does not win the popular vote.

Although the President and all members of the House of Representatives are elected during a November general election, only one third of the Senate is elected at that time. There will also be 11 governors on state ballots as well as state referendums and local elections.


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