Understanding the 2012 Elections

The principle of self-government is rooted in the first three words of the Constitution, “We the people.”
With these words, and four subsequent amendments to the Constitution regarding who can vote, citizens of voting age (18) are given the right and charged with the responsibility of electing, among other officials, the President of the United States, members of Congress (House and Senate) and governors.


Voter Eligibility: To be eligible to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen. In most states, you must be 18 years old to vote, but some states do allow 17-year-olds to vote. States also have their own residency requirements to vote. For your specific state requirements, please refer to the map below.


We The People . . .

In addition to one President being elected nationally by the Electoral College to a four-year term, “We the people” (registered voters) in all 50 states will be electing their respective share of the 435 members of the U.S. House by district to a two-year term, registered voters in 34 states will be electing one third of the members of the U.S. Senate to six-year terms, and registered voters in 11 states will be electing governors to four-year terms.

Races for the nominations for President and Vice President of the United States, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, as well as Governors, serve as excellent models to learn about government.
In the upcoming Primary Elections occurring in almost every state, voters of each major political party (and some minor or third parties) will choose nominees for each political office from among many people of the same party. Candidates in the United States usually choose to run for office as either Democrats or Republicans because these two parties provide more financial and networking support to candidates. At the time of this publication, eight national candidates are competing for the Republican nomination for President, while only one incumbent national candidate is competing for the Democratic nomination for President.
Although much focus in 2012 is on the candidates for President, candidates for Congress and Governor will also be on the ballot. The candidates elected to these offices often have a greater impact on the day-to-day lives of people, because they create many laws impacting communities. In fact, because these officials are direct representatives of people in each state or district, they are often more accessible to voters and can have a more direct effect on voters than an office such as President.

The House and Senate

Like candidates for the presidency, those seeking nomination for the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives or Governor of the state also must submit petitions and meet age and residency requirements.
Candidates for U.S. Senate must be U.S. Citizens at least 30 years old, and residents of their state; candidates for U.S. representative must be U.S. Citizens at least 25 years old and residents of their state. Candidates for these offices from the same political party will run against one another in the primary election. Nominees chosen during the primary election from each political party will run against one another and will be elected directly by voters in the general election on November 6, 2012.

Where & When?

Select your state from the map below to be directed to your areas specific voting requirements.