The United States Primaries
In the race for the United States presidency, the primaries set the arena for the Democrats and the Republicans to battle it out. They field their respective candidates and zero in on the final two contenders for the White House.
The primaries serve as a selection process to determine which candidate will appear on the ballot. Contenders for presidency are chosen through two methods: the caucuses and primaries. Even though each party's candidate is officially nominated at the national conventions (held between April and August), the contenders are known before the primaries are over.
The country's 50 states, plus its territories overseas, organize their own primaries, which makes for a complex, but exciting ride. The final primary for this particular race will take place on June 14, in Washington D.C. This takes the candidates from primary season, to their respective party conventions, the national elections in November, and finally the much-coveted formal announcement of presidency in January.
The selection process is undertaken at the state level, and differs from state to state.
In states that hold caucuses, political parties announce a meeting where generally any voter registered with the party may attend. At the caucus, delegates are chosen to represent the state's interests at the national party convention. After discussion and debate, an informal vote is taken to determine the final delegates.
On the other hand, the primary process gives citizens more power in the selection of candidates for each party. Registered voters get to participate directly in choosing the candidate for the party's nomination by voting through a secret ballot.
This year, while Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are the clear contenders for the Democratic ticket, the Republicans are more ambiguous in their choice with Ted Cruz, who is currently in a tight race with Donald Trump, along with John Kasich and Marco Rubio.
The next US president will take his place in January 2017, and the journey to the White House promises to be just as interesting as the final destination.