05 November 2012 10:00 | By Tom Phillips
The US Presidential Election: How America votes

How do US elections work?

How do US elections work? (© JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
  • How do US 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)
  • Downticket races (© LUCY NICHOLSON/Reuters)
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty ImagesShow Thumbnails
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On the surface, the system for electing US presidents is fairly straightforward. Unlike some countries, Americans vote directly for the leader they want (rather than voting for local representatives or parties in a parliament, who then elect their own leader), with only two major parties to choose from - so on November 6, voters will be making a direct choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s names on the ballot.

But of course, it's not quite that simple...

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