Author Topic: USA electoral system  (Read 3223 times)

Offline admin

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USA electoral system
« on: October 31, 2020, 05:14:27 pm »
Could somebody please explain the USA electoral system or point me at a page where it is explained?
Is it a direct vote for the president, the house and the senate - or what happens and how does it work?
Best wishes,

Duncan

Offline Darryl

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Re: USA electoral system
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2020, 05:58:48 am »
I remember asking that some years ago, Duncan. It has always been a mystery to me, and seems so complicated when compared to our (and your) Westminster system. I do recall Bertha giving a detailed and informative account of what the electoral college system entails. We have just had the Queensland elections on Saturday Labor returned for the next four years. Covid had a lot to do with that.
Good luck trying to unravel the American electoral system!

Offline Bertha

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Re: USA electoral system
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2020, 11:50:13 am »
Did you figure out the electoral system used for selecting the US President?  I will answer as best I can and likely will need to add links if you want more information.

From a US citizen's view, the electoral system can be seen as outdated, unfair, and unwieldy. Lots has been written about its pros and cons and whether the Constitution should be changed so that the electoral college is changed somehow or eliminated completely.  Through school, even though I had plenty of lessons in history and civics, the electoral college was given cursory explanation (IMO).  The most I got from those lessons was that it gave the final say in who became president based on each states' electors, selected before the election, used the state's popular vote to determine how they voted.  I think that is a little idealistic.  Each state gets to have a number of electors based on the state's population (why a census is so important), and that is why some states like Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Michigan, Florida and other states with large populations are allotted more electoral representatives.  At this point, I do not know how they are selected within a state, which I have to assume can be political and so forth (one of the reasons given for elimination of the EC).  At a given date, the members of the Electoral College are supposed to meet and enter their votes.  In some, maybe most states now, the each state's electors vote for their state's choice for president based on who won the most popular votes.  That is why we now seem to have "Red" (for Republican) and "Blue" (for Democratic) states so ubiquitous on maps.  A state like Oklahoma, where there are now more registered Republicans than Democrats, it has become a Red state.  (You can read more about the change briefly here: https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-state-elections-oklahoma-general-elections-elections-44cd9da54c1f451c14d068adbd5e64db ). There has been a concerted effort to get more people to register to vote and then to actually vote, but there are still many who either don't register or don't vote if they do.  I can't explain that except for those such as certain religious groups who do not (e.g. Jehovah's Witness). 

At one time, many of the states had split electors, so that there could be a split vote that represented the popular vote, and that still exists in a few; however, at some time, the republicans while in control of states' legislatures, were able to change the state law to make the state an all or nothing.  If more Republicans voted for a candidate in a state, then all of the electors were supposedly bound  to vote for the Republican candidate.  This is a huge bone of contention and disenfranchises the voters who are Democrats, Independents, et al.  I suspect that is a reason sometimes for voter apathy or at least discouragement.  That is why Oklahoma is a "Red" state--all electors are directed to vote for the Republican candidate if there are more votes for that person.  It is also why there was much made this election in 2020 of republicans crossing "party lines" and voting for a Democratic candidate, which became more of a vote against Trump but not necessarily for any other Democrats running for down ticket elections (senators, representatives, etc.).

Okay. Now that you've read most of what I know from my own knowledge, you can read up on all of the information of the Electoral College: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Electoral_College

Cheers!

Bertha

Offline admin

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Re: USA electoral system
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2020, 12:17:24 pm »
Thanks Bertha.

Clear as mud  :D

I just couldn't work out why it was not the popular vote that showed how the state voted but the electoral college. But, then, I suppose the system is so different from the UK's Eton College / Oxford system of electing the Prime Minister  :(
Best wishes,

Duncan

Offline Bertha

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Re: USA electoral system
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2020, 12:20:03 pm »
Maybe some day I can cross the big pond again and explain it in person. 
Bertha

Offline t k

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Re: USA electoral system
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2020, 08:50:07 am »
This is my crude understanding.  Please correct my errors.

The US election system seems to be a vote-by-state, each state having a vote with strength according to its population (except Maine and Nebraska).

The UK election system seems to be a vote-by-party, each party having a vote with strength according to the number of its MPs, each of which is elected by the members of his/her constituency.

In this sense the US system seems to be simpler and a person's preferences on candidates are more directly reflected in the election.  In the UK system, if one likes one candidate for the MP but does not like the MP's party, then he has a conflict.  --- tk