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Illustrations by Tommaso Tempestini Represented by Lemonade Illustration Agency

On November 3, Americans will choose their next president. That may be months away, but the race for the White House is already heating up. Here’s what you need to know.

1) Can I run for president?

Maybe—but not yet. The U.S. Constitution lists three rules for who can be president:

You have to be at least 35 years old.

You must be a natural-born citizen. That includes anyone born in the U.S. as well as people who are born in other countries but have at least one parent who is an American citizen.

You must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

2) There’s a lot of talk about “races” and “running.” What does it actually mean to run for president?

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A presidential run is all about convincing people to vote for you. The goal is to persuade as many people as possible that you’re the best person to lead the country. Candidates do this by campaigning. They crisscross the nation, traveling from state to state to meet voters, give speeches, and attend events. They let the public know where they stand on important issues like education and health care.

President Donald Trump is running for his second fouryear term. He is almost certain to be the nominee, or choice, of the Republican Party. But the Democratic Party still needs to choose a candidate to run against him.

3) What are these parties all about? Do they include gifts and cake?

No, these parties have nothing to do with birthdays. Political parties are groups of people who have similar ideas about how the government should be run. The two main parties in the U.S. are the Democrats and the Republicans. Each party has millions of members.

Every four years, each party chooses one candidate to run for president. Those two candidates face off on Election Day in November.

4) If the election isn’t until November, why are we talking about it now?

There a lot of Democrats competing to be their party’s pick to challenge President Trump. Most have spent much of the past year campaigning and debating. 

The next steps in choosing a Democratic candidate are two types of special elections: primaries and caucuses. Primaries work very much like the national election in November. Voters head to a polling place to cast secret ballots. Caucuses are different. In caucuses, people gather in schools, churches, or homes to discuss candidates and then vote as a group for their top choice.

5) When will we know who the final candidates are?

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This summer. By the end of June, one candidate typically gains enough votes to become his or her party’s final nominee. However, anything can happen in the coming months! Stay up to date on the race for the White House with Scholastic News.

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What year will you be able to run for president?

1. What are the three requirements for being the president of the U.S.?

2. What is the purpose of campaigning?

3. How are a primary and a caucus similar? How are they different?

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