This longest race is nearly run at last – and as autumn 2008 falls inexorably into the arms of winter, the US election beckons with its promise of history in the making.
Because by the time the October New England leaves lie buried under fresh January snows, the new course of our free world will have been decided.
And after months of Primaries, Conventions and Rallies — the millions of words from Hillary, Barack and McCain, and thousands of column inches on Sarah, Joe and even Joe the Plumber — how, exactly, will America elect her new President?
We’ve heard about the battleground states — the races for Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. But surely, every vote counts, right across the country?
This week, I’m indebted to Ella, our long-standing America correspondent, for writing this timely From Scratch guide to the US Electoral College.
All across the lower 48, Hawaii, Alaska and the farthest reaches of the Upper East Side, America decides.
And this is how it works.
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On November 4, we Americans will be voting for a new president in no less than 51 separate elections — one in each state and the District of Columbia.
On that day we won’t elect the new president, though; that won’t happen until December 15, when the electors, chosen in the primaries and by state party meetings, gather in their respective state capitals to cast their votes.
And the president won’t count as duly elected until those electoral votes are counted in Congress on January 6.
In a nutshell, those three stages define how our Electoral College works.