On today’s episode, the final episode in this series on US election vocabulary, we will look at the Election Day. Who can vote? Where do they vote? How do they voter? When will the results be announced? When will the winner become president? These questions, and the vocabulary connected to them, will be answered in today’s episode of Thinking in English! If you haven’t already, make sure you listen to episodes 6, 9, and 12 for even more political vocabulary!!

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Vocabulary List

To go to the polls (v) – to vote

The USA will go to the polls on November 3rd

To cast (v) – to vote

All the votes in the election have now been cast and counting has begun

absentee (n) – someone who is absent

If you can’t vote on election day, you can vote using an absentee ballot

intimidation (n) – the action of frightening or threatening someone, usually in order to persuade them to do something that you want them to do 

As the election approaches, it will be difficult to prevent voter intimidation and fraud

invalidation (n) – the action of stopping a document, ticket, law, etc. from being legal or officially acceptable

Voting fraud led to the invalidation of the election

To tamper (v) – to make changes to something that you should not, usually without enough knowledge of how it works or when you are trying to damage it

I could see immediately that the lock had been tampered with 

suppression (n) -the act of preventing something from being seen or expressed or from operating

The suppression of free speech

electorate (n) – all the people who are allowed to vote

The electorate chose Barack Obama as the next President of the USA

surge (n) – a sudden and great increase

There has been a surge in house prices recently


After months, if not years, of campaigning, speeches, debates, and much more, the USA will finally head to the polls on Tuesday 3rd November to elect the next President of the USA. As the leader of the world’s most powerful army and influential economy, the US President has the ability to not only affect the future of the USA, but to also affect the future of other countries around the world. For this reason, the election is normally one of the most reported on issues around the world. Throughout October, we have discussed vocabulary and terms surrounding US politics. On today’s episode, the final episode in this series on US election vocabulary, we will look at the Election Day. Who can vote? Where do they vote? How do they voter? When will the results be announced? When will the winner become president? These questions, and the vocabulary connected to them, will be answered in today’s episode of Thinking in English!

Election Day

So let’s start with a simple term; election day. Election day is the day when American’s can vote in person for the President of the USA. It is not the only day (we will look at some of the ways people can vote early later) but it is the final day that a voter can cast their vote! While some large countries vote across multiple days or weeks, election day in the USA is always one day. This year’s election day will be on Tuesday 3rd November; it is actually always held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Why Tuesday, and why November? It is important to remember the rules were decided over 150 years ago in 1845. The election can never be on the first day of November, because this is a Catholic religious holiday called All Saints Day. It was decided it can’t be a Monday because in the past people had to travel long distances to vote. Monday was not considered reasonable as many people would need to begin travel on Sunday. This would, of course, have conflicted with church services and Sunday worship. November was chosen because it was probably the most convenient month for farmers and rural workers; harvest had finished and the weather was normally ok for traveling in November!

Early voting

I mentioned earlier that voters in the USA don’t have to vote on election day. Instead, every state in the USA allows some form of early voting. Early voting is exactly what it sounds like – it’s where people are allowed to vote before the scheduled election day.This can be either in-person at early voting stations, or absentee – that is, by post. In the US, this means people are able to cast their ballots before 3 November – either by post or in-person. Early voting is gradually increasing every election cycle, and with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting everything this year, and some form of early voting allowed in all 50 states, there has already been record numbers of people casting their ballots ahead of time.  According to the US Elections Project, more than 85 million Americans have already voted early – either by post or in person. 

Voter Fraud

Voter fraud has been a key word in this year’s election campaigns. Any illegal tampering with the results of an election is a form of voter fraud. This can take the form of intimidation or threats of violence against voters, vote buying, misrecording of votes, destruction or invalidation of ballots, tampering with electronic voting machines, and more. President Trump has argued repeatedly that increases in postal voting would lead to the “most corrupt election” in US history and has promoted claims that people would be able to vote more than once in the absentee ballot system. His outspoken criticism of early voting might make his supporters more likely to vote in person on election day! However, importantly, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the absentee voting system. In fact, the rate of voting fraud overall in the US is between 0.00004% and 0.0009%, according to a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice.

Polling place

So you decided that, instead of voting early, you want to vote in person on election day. But, where do you go to vote? You go to a polling place (or polling station in British English). The polling place is the location in which you cast your vote. It could be a school, church, community center, or other central public place, and is assigned to voters depending on where they live

Polling Booth

Inside the polling place, there will be polling booths. This is the specific place in which voters can cast their votes in secret. VOters cast their vote on a ballot (a piece of paper on which you write your choices) and then place their vote into a ballot box!


WHo can vote in the US election? This is decided by voter eligibility. If you’re a US citizen and you’re 18 or over, you are probably eligible to vote in the presidential election. However,  many states have passed laws requiring voters to prove who they are before they can vote. Some people say these laws are needed to guard against voter fraud, while others argue that these laws are a form of voter suppression as it is often poorer, minority voters who are unable to provide ID like a driving licence. In 2016, about 245 million people were eligible to vote, but fewer than 140 million people actually did. This year is likely to have a higher turnout!

Exit Poll

Exit polls are informal polls taken as people leave the voting booth. Exit polls are used to predict the winners before the polls close. They are, however, controversial; it has been criticised for influencing the result of elections because results from the East coast could be announced before the west coast has voted, and it has also been criticised as no longer accurately capturing an electorate that is increasingly voting early, absentee, or by mail

Vote counting

In the USA, votes can be counted by people or by machines. Although It can take several days for every vote to be counted, it’s usually clear who the winner is by the morning after the election. In 2016, Donald Trump declared victory at around 3am the day after the election! However, officials are already warning that we may have to wait longer – possibly days, even weeks – for the result this year because of the expected surge in postal ballots.

The last time the result wasn’t clear within a few hours was in 2000, when the winner wasn’t confirmed until a Supreme Court ruling was made a month later!


When does the winner take office? Well, if Joe Biden wins the election, he wouldn’t immediately replace President Trump as the new leader is given time to appoint cabinet ministers and make plans. During that time, the current president is known as lame duck.  “Lame duck” usually refers to a president in that period of time after an election and before the inauguration of a successor. The new president is officially sworn into office on 20 January in a ceremony known as the inauguration, which is held on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC. After the ceremony, the new president makes their way to the White House to begin their four-year term in office.

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By Tom Wilkinson

Host and founder of Thinking in English, Tom is committed to providing quality and interesting content to all English learners. Previously a research student at a top Japanese university and with a background in English teaching, political research, and Asian languages, Tom is now working fulltime on bettering Thinking in English!

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