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According to the U.S. Constitution, an election for President occurs every four years. Candidates receive nomination by vote at each political party's national convention (if the party holds one.) Candidates go through a series of state primaries and caucuses.
Presidential primary elections occur through a secret ballot. There are two types of primaries: closed and open. During a closed primary, voters may vote only for a candidate belonging to the political party with which they have registration. In an open primary, voters can vote for a candidate of either party. Most states hold closed primaries.
Caucuses are meetings where members of political parties divide themselves into groups according to the candidate they support, with the undecided voters forming into their own group. Voters in each group are then give speeches supporting their candidate and try to persuade others to join their group. At the end of the caucus, party organizers count the voters in each candidate's group and calculate how many delegates each candidate has won.
The primaries and caucuses can produce both pledged and unpledged convention delegates. Pledged delegates vote for the primary winner in their state at their party's national convention. Unpledged delegates are free to vote for any candidate they wish at their party's national convention.
The Democratic and Republican parties use different methods for determining how many delegates vote for the various candidates at their national conventions. The Democrats have national rules for the selection of candidates while the Republicans allow each state to set its own guidelines for candidate selection.
You may wish to view additional information about voting and elections.
In the U.S., 16 of 19 states and the District of Columbia utilize the caucus method exclusively. The other three rely on a hybrid method that combines a primary and caucus to determine a winner.
The Rules of the Republican Party" adopted by the RNC 1 September 2008 and revised August 2010: