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Presidential general election

Every four years, U.S. citizens vote for president and vice president during the general election. Learn how the presidential general election works.

Presidential candidates

Major political parties nominate presidential and vice presidential candidates at their party’s national convention. The candidates’ names will be listed on the general election ballot. 

Candidates from minor political parties and independent candidates might not have a national convention. But they may be on the ballot on a state-by-state basis if they meet the eligibility requirements. This usually includes collecting a certain number of signatures on a petition for that state.

Voting in the presidential general election

In the presidential general election, citizens who are registered can:

  • Vote even if they did not vote in their state’s primary elections
  • Vote for any presidential candidate, regardless of the party they are registered with or who they voted for in the past

Most people vote on Election Day, which is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. 

Depending on where you live, the voting period may be extended to include absentee ballots, mail-in ballots, and early voting.

Learn more about the presidential general election process.

LAST UPDATED: March 13, 2024


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