2020 Presidential Election


On November 3rd, 2020, our country will be selecting the 46th President of the United States! But, how did we end up with Joe Biden and Donald Trump as the two main presidential candidates? Unfortunately, it’s not a straightforward path to the presidency, in fact, it’s a circuitous path rife with twists, turns, complicated rules, and exceptions. Here’s a summary below to explain how one could become President of the United States.


To be eligible for the presidency of the U.S., one must fulfill certain required criteria first. Not everyone can be president, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective. You must be at least 35 years old and born in the U.S. Even if you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, that is, you were born in another country but eventually gained citizenship, you will not be eligible to become President of the United States. In addition, along with having been born in the U.S., you must have physically resided in the U.S. for at least 14 years. This means that someone who is born in the U.S. must also live in the U.S. for a required period of time and fulfill a residency requirement.


You’ve probably already heard of the “Iowa Caucus” or the “New Hampshire Primary.” Primaries or Caucuses are held in all 50 U.S. states, commencing at the beginning of the election year, to determine the “best” candidate for President from a particular political party.  This is determined by votes of official party members in each state, and these events can be held in public venues such as gyms, schools, etc. Even though the election process is generally dominated by a two-party, Republican and Democrat bi-partisan model, there will also be “third-party” (neither Democrat nor Republican) candidates represented during the presidential election by law.

Presidential candidates from each political party will proceed to feverishly “campaign” throughout the country to gain votes from their party members at the Primaries and Caucuses. Generally, the presidential nominee will be selected through this process.


At the end of the summer during an election year, a large Democratic and Republican National Convention is hosted in a designated city to officially nominate a particular candidate from that party for President of the United States. Usually, the incumbent (current) President will be the official presidential nominee for their political party for another term unless the President has already served two terms (8 years). Since most states have already adopted Primaries and Caucuses, the presidential candidate will have most likely already been nominated BEFORE the National Convention takes place later in the summer. The presidential nominees will then continue campaigning across the U.S. in order to gain popular votes.


This is when registered U.S. voters may cast their votes either by mail-in ballots, early voting, or they may go directly to the official polling stations on November 3rd, 2020. This is called the “Popular Vote,” or votes cast by registered U.S. voters.


Mandated by the Constitution to ensure equal representation of both small and large states in terms of population during a presidential election, this is by far the most confusing and controversial part of the election process. Essentially, when residents of a state cast a majority of popular votes for a certain candidate, they are not actually voting for the President directly, rather, they are voting for several designated “State Electors” who will officially vote for the candidate chosen by the Popular Vote. This usually takes place at the State Capitol (e.g., Sacramento) after the popular votes have been counted.

The number of State Electors depends on how many Congressional Representatives are in the state. Altogether, there is a total of 538 electoral votes among the 50 U.S. States. California has the most electoral votes at 55 and then Texas is in second place with 38. The State Electors may not already be federally elected officials so as to avoid bias and conflicts of interest in the election process.

There must be a majority (more than 270) of electoral votes for the candidate to be elected President. If there is not a majority, then the election process is deferred to the House of Representatives who will need to cast ballots for President. There must be a 2/3 majority of votes for the President to be elected.

Five times in U.S. history, including the most recent presidential election of 2016, even though a particular candidate received the majority of the Popular Vote, the President was ultimately elected by the Electoral College. Remember that the number of State Electors can vary significantly by state, therefore, it is possible, albeit rare, that the Electoral College could determine the outcome of the presidential election, rather than the actual Popular Vote.


The new President will be sworn in at the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony as the 46th President of the United States the following year in late January.

For more information on the U.S. presidential election process, please visit USA.gov.

Source: USA.gov

West Coast Wildfire Resources

Dear Global Spartans,

We hope that you have all been keeping safe and hunkered down during the intense wildfires of the last few weeks. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict when and where these wildfires will strike, and the wildfires are occurring even earlier and with more frequency than anticipated. In order to ensure that you have the best resources at your disposal in the event of a wildfire in your area, we have provided the following guidance from the state and federal government on how to prepare for wildfires and to whom to reach out should you become affected by a wildfire in California or on the West Coast of the U.S.

We strongly recommend that you review the following resource on state and federal guidance for wildfires that have been occurring in California, Oregon, and Washington:

West Coast Wildfires Resource

We wish you a safe and successful Fall 2020 semester! #TalkToUs should you have any queries by contacting us at our international-office@sjsu.edu general inbox or you may choose to schedule an appointment with an International Student Advisor for more complex questions.

Warm Regards,

The ISSS Staff


Best wishes for the fall 2020 semester!

“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

Parinaz Zartoshty,
Director of ISSS

As we start an unprecedented fall semester, I do want to acknowledge the challenges and obstacles you have all faced and overcome to continue or to start your studies here at SJSU. Amidst the backdrop of a pandemic, multiple immigration regulatory changes, social unrest and natural disasters, you have persevered and continued with your studies. I am constantly amazed by the dedication, determination and resilience of all of you, our Global Spartan community. 

Please know that all of us in International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) are proud of you and commend you on your tenacity. Although this semester and this moment in history are different than any other you may have experienced or will experience, we know that you will continue to thrive. The ISSS team is here to support you, albeit virtually. We have expanded our advising availability so please schedule an appointment with an advisor for the more complex questions or stop by for a quick question during our daily zoom Q&A sessions.

We hope that you will continue to stay engaged by participating in the virtual programming offerings this fall. Many special workshops have been developed to address issues we are encountering, grappling with and addressing this semester (i.e. social justice, diversity and inclusion, etc.) and beyond. There are also multiple virtual social gatherings, so take advantage and stay connected with your peers through these various events. Tap into our wonderful Global Leaders who continue to be an amazing resource for you and offer a unique peer to peer perspective.

Most importantly, please continue to practice self-care. These are extenuating circumstances and we are all experiencing mixed emotions on a daily basis, so don’t hesitate to reach out so we can connect you with the appropriate resources on campus. As President Papazian shared in her recent message, SJSU has created the Spartan Community Promise, which we hope you will join: As Spartans, we can make a difference.

Finally, welcome to the fall 2020 semester. I am confident that you will acquire new skills, continue to challenge yourselves and will come out stronger and more resilient than ever.  We are so proud of you and all that you bring to our campus and our classrooms. Best of luck as you start this next chapter and embark on the journey of the fall 2020 semester! 

Welcome to our new blog!

ISSS Welcome Blog

It is with great pleasure that we present the brand-new ISSS News & Views blog! This blog will officially replace the ISSS monthly Newsletter, which we have been proudly distributing to international students, staff, and faculty at the beginning of each month for several years. We decided to transition to a blog format to create a much more interactive and holistic experience for students, in which different themes/topics from previous blogs will be categorized into easily searchable tags. Moreover, by transitioning to a blog format, we intend to be more consistent with the rest of the university community, as most departments and offices at SJSU are currently utilizing blogs as their primary source of news and updates. 

The blog will be distributed directly to international students as well as staff and faculty emails on a bi-weekly basis, which will then be archived and available on our website indefinitely.


How to Subscribe & Blog Content

To subscribe to our blog, please go here. Blog topics will include culture, news, immigration/policy updates, and general topics relevant to our international student population. We will also include local restaurant and event recommendations from the ISSS staff!


 Student/Faculty/Staff Spotlight

We are excited to announce that in addition to the ISSS News & Views Blog, we will be introducing the monthly Student/Scholar/Faculty/Staff Spotlight to highlight the academic/civic achievements and diversity of our vast Global Spartan community! Our featured “Spotlight” could be any Global Spartan or perhaps an SJSU faculty or staff member. 


Our Mission

During these unprecedented and difficult times, we are happy to increase our efforts to support the large international community that we serve and to provide our students with as many helpful resources as possible. At SJSU, we are immensely proud of our diversity and the countless invaluable contributions that international students have bestowed on our culture, economy, and values as a community. 


The ISSS Staff