Most states have primary elections to decide which candidates will be on the Novembergeneral election ballot. Some states parties hold conventions in conjunction with theprimary. If a candidate is unopposed, there may not be a primary election. Those whorepresent a major political party are automatically placed on a state's primaryballot. Minor party candidates are chosen by their party's rules while independentcandidates nominate themselves. Independent candidates and those representing minorparties must meet various state requirements to be placed on the general electionballot. An example of this would be to submit a petition with a certain number ofregistered voters.
Before 1913 senators were chosen by their state legislatures. The FoundingFathers believed that since the senators represented the state, the statelegislature should elect them. The 17th Amendment to the Constitution now requiressenators to be elected by a direct vote of those s/he will represent. Electionwinners are decided by the plurality rule. That is, the person who receives thehighest number of votes wins. This may not necessarily be a majority of the votes. Forexample, in an election with three candidates, one candidate may receive only 38% of thevote, another 32%, and the third 30%. Although no candidate has received a majority ofmore than 50% of the votes, the candidate with 38% wins because s/he has the most votes(the plurality).