Word Power | Lesson 5: After the vote: A timeline of how a U.S. president takes power

Chúng ta cùng tìm hiểu thuật ngữ về bầu cử Tổng thống Mĩ (U.S. presidential election) như: “Election Day,” “ballots,” “electors,” “Electoral College,” “the electoral votes,”… nhé!

By Nicholas Riccardi, The Associated Press (AP)

Election Day is typically the end of the contentious fight for the White House. But it could just be the beginning. With both Democrats and Republicans preparing for possible legal fights over the vote count, the post-election process for seating the winner is getting a closer look.

The two-plus-months of often-ignored procedural steps are laid out by the U.S. Constitution and federal law and they’re far more complicated than simply handing over the keys to the White House to the winner.

Below are the key dates in the process, and what happens each step of the way.

Nov. 3: The first step is Election Day. Voters in all 50 states technically are not voting for a president, but for a slate of electors who are pledged to support one of the presidential candidates in a later vote. Voters can cast their ballots on or before Nov. 3, but voting stops when polls close. States then can count the votes.

Late November/Early December: Each state has its own deadline to certify the election. However, if ballot disputes, litigation or other factors delay the count, blowing this deadline doesn’t invoke a penalty in the presidential race. The big deadlines are still to come.

Dec. 8: This is known as the safe harbor deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Most states want their electors named by this deadline, to ensure Congress cannot disregard them.

Dec. 14: This is the date when electors are required to meet in their states and cast their ballots for president. Missing this deadline could mean a state’s electors don’t count in the presidential tally. Any electors seated between Dec. 8 and this date can still vote, but they could theoretically be challenged by Congress. Also, by this date the governor of each state must certify the state’s presidential election and slate of electors.

Dec. 23: The states are supposed to transmit their votes to Congress by this date.

Jan. 3: The new Congress is sworn in.

Jan. 6: Congress counts the electoral votes. Typically, this process formally certifies a winner.

But if no candidate wins a majority of electors, the House votes to determine who becomes president. This procedure is laid out in the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Each state’s delegation gets one vote, and the winner of 26 state delegations becomes president. The Senate votes for the vice president.

Other disputes could also break out. Congress can reject electors not correctly seated by the Dec. 8 deadline. If states submit competing slates of electors – as happened in the 1876 presidential election – Congress will have to determine which one to count. An 1887 law passed after that episode gives broad guidance on how to do that, but it’s never come up again, so no one knows exactly what the procedure might be.

Jan. 20: By noon on this day, the Constitution says a new presidential term begins. If Congress has not yet certified a winner of the presidential election, federal law designates an acting president based on which elected officials are in office. If there is no president or vice president whose election has been certified by Congress, for example, the Speaker of the House becomes president. If there isn’t a speaker in office, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate becomes president.

Source: https://apnews.com/article/how-president-takes-power-timeline-ebdd155bcd75922e724297f2c5e9a029


*Vocabulary and Notes:

1. Election Day /ɪˈlekʃn deɪ/, election night /ɪˈlekʃn naɪt/ (n): According to the AP Stylebook, the first term, “Election Day,” (Ngày Bầu Cử) is capitalized while the second term, “election night,” (Đêm Bầu Cử) is lowercase for the November national elections in the United States.

E.g. While the Election Day vote traditionally favors Republicans and early votes tend toward Democrats, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 227,000 people in the United States, has injected new uncertainty. (AP)

2. contentious /kənˈtenʃəs/ (adj): According to the COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary, a contentious issue (vấn đề dễ gây tranh cãi) causes a lot of disagreement or arguments.

E.g. With the new early voting window, mail-in and absentee ballots, New York expects a record high turnout in the contentious fight for the White House. (New York Daily News)

3. the White House /ðə ˈwaɪt haʊs/ (n): According to the COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary, “the White House” (Nhà Trắng) is the official home in Washington DC of the President of the United States. We can also use “the White House” to refer to the President of the United States and his or her officials.

E.g. Control of the Senate can make or break a presidency. With it, a reelected Trump could confirm his nominees and ensure a backstop against legislation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Without it, Joe Biden would face a potential wall of opposition to his agenda if the Democratic nominee won the White House. (AP)

4. Democrat /ˈdeməkræt/ (abbreviation D, Dem.) (n): According to the COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary, a Democrat (thành viên/người ủng hộ Đảng Dân chủ Hoa Kì) is a member or supporter of a particular political party which has the word ‘democrat’ or ‘democratic’ in its title, for example ‘the Democratic Party in the United States’. A democrat is a person who believes in the ideals of democracy, personal freedom, and equality.

E.g. President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden each has a path to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. (AP)

5. Republican /rɪˈpʌblɪkən/ (abbreviation R, Rep.) (n): According to the COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary, a Republican in the United States (thành viên/người ủng hộ Đảng Cộng hòa Hoa Kì) is someone who supports or belongs to the Republican Party.

E.g. When Barack Obama won the state in 2008, he beat Republican Sen. John McCain by fewer than 205,000 votes in Florida – a far narrower gap than the nearly 700,000 voter-registration advantage Democrats had over Republicans at the time. (AP)

6. the U.S. Constitution /ˌkɑːnstɪˈtuːʃn/ (n): According to the AP Stylebook, the U.S. Constitution (Hiến pháp Hoa Kì) is made up of the original preamble that begins “We the people” and seven articles that took effect in 1789, and 27 amendments added between 1791 and 1992. The first 10 of those amendments are known as “the Bill of Rights”.

The articles establish the system of government; the Bill of Rights mainly lays out rights guaranteed to the people. The rest of the amendments expand on the original document (prohibiting slavery, expanding the right to vote, limiting a president’s terms, for example). Some reflect society’s changing values, such as Prohibition and its repeal.

The articles and many amendments are divided into sections, but the most important elements of articles and amendments often are identified as “clauses”. Clauses get their names from key words or phrases, like the commerce clause in Article 1, Section 8, the free speech clause in the First Amendment or the equal protection clause in section 1 of the 14th amendment.

Capitalize references to the U.S. Constitution, with or without the U.S. modifier: “The president said he supports the Constitution.

E.g. Nearly 2.9 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, but she still lost. President Donald Trump won because he took the Electoral College, under a system set up in the U.S. Constitution and refined through the centuries. This is where the magic number comes into play. To win the White House, a candidate must win at least 270 electoral votes. That’s a majority of the 538 that are up for grabs in the 50 states. (AP)

7. slate /sleɪt/ (n): According to the COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary, a slate (danh sách ứng viên) is a list of candidates for an election, usually from the same party.

E.g. Each presidential candidate has a slate of electors chosen by the candidate’s party in each state. They are often elected state representatives, party leaders and activists. (CBC.ca)

8. elector /ɪˈlektər/ (n): ​According to the COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary, an elector (đại cử tri) is a member of the electoral college. People vote for electors in each state to represent them in the presidential elections.

E.g. Electors are chosen every four years in the months leading up to Election Day by their respective state’s political parties. (The New York Times)

9. Electoral College /ɪˌlektərəl ˈkɑːlɪdʒ/ (n): According to the AP Stylebook, the Electoral College (Cử tri đoàn) is the process by which the United States selects its president. The “college” consists of 538 electors from the states. Each state gets as many electoral votes as it has members of Congress, and the District of Columbia gets three. To be elected president, the winner must get at least half the total plus one – or 270 electoral votes. Most states give all their electoral votes to whichever candidate wins that state’s popular vote. The electoral system has delivered a split verdict five times, most recently in 2016, with one candidate winning the popular vote and another the presidency.

E.g. Each of the fifty states casts electoral college votes equal to the number of its delegates in Congress. (OALD)

10. ballot /ˈbælət/ (n): According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, a ballot (phiếu cử tri) is the piece of paper on which somebody marks who they are voting for.

E.g. With nine days before Election Day, more people already have cast ballots in this year’s presidential election than voted early or absentee in the 2016 race as the start of in-person early voting in big states led to a surge in turnout in recent days. (AP)

11. voting: According to the AP Stylebook, the 2020 general election is expected to be the first general election in U.S. history in which more votes are cast before Election Day than on Election Day. Thus, do not use phrasing such as “voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s election ...” Instead: “Voting concluded Tuesday ...

E.g. Voting concluded Wednesday in most of Zimbabwe’s polling stations in elections in which Robert Mugabe, faced one of the biggest challenges to his 33-year grip on power. (AP)

12. advance voting, absentee voting, early voting, mail-in voting: The AP Stylebook says electoral systems that allow voters to cast ballots before the day of an election are broadly known as “advance voting”. Each state has its own procedures for advance voting, which may include “voting by mail,” “voting absentee” or “voting in person before Election Day.

In the past, some states required “absentee voters” to provide proof that they are unable to cast a vote on Election Day. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, many states are allowing anyone to apply for an “absentee ballot”. Some others plan to mail a ballot, or a form to request one, to every voter.

President Donald Trump has baselessly claimed that mail voting leads widespread fraud. The five states that before this year mailed ballots to all voters have seen no significant fraud.

The term “advance voting” is preferred in states where voters have several options to vote before Election Day. In the states that conduct elections primarily by mail, “mail-in voting,” “mail voting” and “mailed votes” are all acceptable. Hyphenate as a compound modifier: “advance-voting procedures,” “mail-in voting,” “absentee-ballot votes”.

E.g. Advocates tried to put a six-week early voting proposal on the state ballot in 2014, but they couldn’t get enough petition signatures. Republican lawmakers pitched an alternative that would have allowed advance voting for six business days, but voters rejected it. (AP)

E.g. Some Democratic lawmakers in Mississippi sought to expand absentee voting this year because of the virus, but those efforts went nowhere. Under current law, absentee voting is limited to people who are age 65 or older, who have a disability or who show they can’t make it to their polling places on Election Day. (AP)

E.g. More people already have cast ballots in this year’s presidential election than voted early or absentee in the 2016 race as the start of in-person early voting in big states has caused a surge in turnout in recent days. The opening of early voting locations in Florida, Texas and elsewhere has piled millions of new votes on top of the mail ballots arriving at election offices as voters try to avoid crowded places on Nov. 3 during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP)

E.g. Republicans who control the Iowa Legislature passed the law in June after the primary saw record turnout with heavy mail-in voting, which was promoted as a way to keep people from contracting coronavirus at crowded polling places. (AP)

13. Congress /ˈkɑːŋɡrəs/ (n): ​According to the COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary, Congress (Quốc hội) is the elected group of politicians that is responsible for making the law in the United States. It consists of two parts: the House of Representatives (Hạ nghị viện) and the Senate (Thượng nghị viện).

E.g. The makeup of Congress will be determined by the general election, with both parties needing a majority to control the House or Senate. (AP)

14. swear somebody in, or swear somebody into something /swer ɪn/ (phr v): When someone is sworn in (tuyên thệ), according to the COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary, they formally promise to fulfill the duties of a new job or appointment.

E.g. The first Black Republican woman to become a state legislator in Maryland has been sworn in to the House of Delegates. (AP)

15. Amendment /əˈmendmənt/ (n): According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, an amendment (tu chính án Hiến pháp Hoa Kì) is a statement of a change to the Constitution of the US.

E.g. The 12th Amendment to the Constitution gives Congress the final say on who is elected president and vice president. Congress decides whether to accept or reject slates of electors from the Electoral College and to determine whether a candidate has won the required 270 electoral votes to become president. (AP)

16. the Speaker of the House /ðə ˈspiːkər əv ðə  haʊs/ (n): According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the Speaker of the House is the politician who controls discussions in the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress. (Chủ tịch Hạ viện Hoa Kì)

E.g. Nancy Pelosi is the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives, having made history in 2007 when she was elected the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House.  Now in her third term as Speaker, Pelosi made history again in January 2019 when she regained her position second-in-line to the presidency, the first person to do so in more than 60 years. (https://www.speaker.gov/)


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