Nominating conventions 101: What you need to know

The Republican and Democratic parties are gearing up for their political nominating conventions where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively, are expected to be formally nominated to represent their parties in the November election for president.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled for July 18-21 in Cleveland and will be held at the Quicken Loans Arena. The Democrats will meet the following week from July 25-28 in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Wells Fargo Center.

The conventions will cap several months of primary elections held in each state, Washington D.C. and U.S. territories. Those elections began in Iowa five months ago when voters in the Hawkeye state were the first to cast ballots on Feb. 1, 2016.    

The political parties establish their rules for participating in the nominating convention. Every U.S. state and territory receives a number of delegates -- or voting representatives -- based on the state's population and the proportion of each state's Congressional representatives. 

States select delegates differently but many of them are local elected officials or political activists who have sought a role as a state delegate.

But delegates aren't the only ones who attend conventions. They are joined by party leaders, invited guests, corporate titans, celebrities, party supporters and protestors. In addition, several news media outlets, bloggers and photographers also attend to document the convention happenings.

Each party decides the rules that delegates must follow.

But generally, a delegate is bound to vote for the candidate who carried the state during the primary election. There has been talk this year, however, that some in the RNC want to change the party's rule that governs who delegates must vote for -- an apparent last-minute effort to stop Trump from securing the nomination.

But that movement seems to be losing steam.

The political convention is when the party officially nominates a candidate but the parties also use the meetings to formally adopt their platform, which spells out what principles and goals the party supports. Each idea in the platform is called a plank. 

The GOP convention for this presidential election is occurring about a month before the RNC convention has usually been held. Party officials said the early scheduling for this year's convention will help the nominee tap into election funding.

"A convention in July is a historic success for our party and future nominee," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a written statement. "The convention will be held significantly earlier than previous election cycles, allowing access to crucial general election funds earlier than ever before to give our nominee a strong advantage heading into Election Day."

The four-day convention will feature Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. And the convention is expected to attract large groups of protesters.

The Democrats will meet in the City of Brotherly Love about a week after the GOP wraps its convention. And the Democratic gathering will most likely be more predictable since everyone in the party has generally lined up behind Hillary Clinton.

According to reports, some A-list celebrities are expected to attend the Democrats' meeting, including Bryan Cranston, Lenny Kravitz, Janelle Monae and Lady Gaga.

The Libertarian Party held its nominating convention in May during a meeting in Orlando. Two-term governors Gary Johnson and William Weld were selected as the party's nominees for president and vice president.