Well actually, it's quite a long process; it goes from January to November!
Why does it take so long?
Well you see, before we know who to vote for in the presidential election, we need to decide who the candidate for each party will be. That is why we hold primaries and caucuses starting in January to determine that.
Cool, so does that mean I get to vote in the primaries to help determine the candidates for the real election?
Not directly. In some primaries, you only elect delegates who are associated with a certain candidate, and then whoever has the most support from the delegates will end up becoming the sole party candidate. The only time where you will vote directly for a candidate is at the party National Convention
Interesting... What happens when the candidates are finally chosen?
After the elected delegates figure out who each party candidate will be, the Democrat and Republican candidate have a series of campaigns and debates until the big day: Election Day!
Similar to the primaries and caucuses, the candidates aren't voted for directly. Citizens vote for electors instead, who make up the electoral college, and pledge to vote for one of the candidates. If one state has more democratic electors than republican electors, then the democratic candidate takes all and gets the votes of all the electors.
Well that doesn't seem fair! Is that why President Trump won the election even though the citizen popular majority was for Clinton?
Yes and it's and it's all thanks to the electoral college. If a candidate gets more than 50% of the electoral college, then they win. That's the system for you.