Election 2012: Tortoise vs. Rabbit Week 2: Requirements to Run for President Background for Educators The U.S. Constitution defines the process of electing a President. To run for president, the candidate must be A natural born citizen of the United States A resident of the U.S. for 14 years At least 35 years old Presidential elections are held once every four years. There are four main steps in the process of running for president: primaries and caucuses, national conventions, general election, and Electoral College. Step I: Primaries and Caucuses Many people want to run for president, even people with similar ideas who are in the same political party. Primaries and caucuses are elections where members of political parties vote for whichever candidate they think should run for their political party in the general election. Step 2: National Conventions Each political party holds a national convention at the end of the primaries and caucuses to announce their presidential nominee. The nominee chooses his or her vice-presidential running mate. Step 3: The General (or Popular) Election Each party now has its candidate. Candidates go across the country trying to convince people to vote for them. This is called campaigning. In November, Americans vote for one candidate. In the general election, Americans in each state cast their vote for a group of people called electors. These people are part of the Electoral College and are supposed to vote for whichever candidate their state prefers. Step 4: The Electoral College Each state gets a certain number of electors based on the state’s number of Congressional representatives. Each elector gets one vote. Large states get more electoral votes. California gets 54 and a smaller state like Rhode Island gets 4. There are 538 electoral votes all together. The electors cast their votes in the December after the general election. The votes are counted on January 6th, and the presidential candidate who gets more than half of the votes wins the election. On January 20th, the president and vice president take the oath of office at an inauguration.