The US presidential electoral system is in effect a two-stage decision system. In the first stage, the voters from every state elect a certain number of members of electoral college, who are pledged, de facto if not de jure, to vote for a certain candidate. In the second stage, the Electoral College elects the president. Let us try to evaluate the process critically as briefly as possible. Under Article Two of the United States Constitution, as amended by the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, an Electoral College will elect the president.
These electors are appointed by mechanisms chosen by each state’s legislature (prevailingly, by popular vote of the voters of each state). The individual who receives a majority of votes for president — 270 votes are needed for a majority — will be the president-elect of the United States; and the individual who receives a majority of electoral votes for vice president will be the vice president-elect of the United States. PRIMARY OR CAUCUS To start with, there were about 7 or 8 candidates for both the Republican Party (George W.
Bush’s party) and the same number for the Democratic Party (Hilary’s party). So right now the US is in the primary election mode. Primary elections or caucus (that is what Iowa is called) is important because they will help eliminate candidates in both parties. The primary’s results are by the actual popular vote (if Hilary gets 20 votes and Obama gets 25 he would win that primary). However, a serious problem arises here. There are MANY valid political viewpoints, but you can only choose between two candidates. The primaries are the real election.
A viable multi-party election system would be better. Of course, there are issues, but they are workable problems. ELECTORAL COLLEGE AND THE PROBLEM When you vote for a presidential candidate you are really voting to instruct the electors from your state to cast their votes for the same candidate. For example, if you vote for the Republican candidate, you are really voting for an elector who will be “pledged” to vote for the Republican candidate. The candidate who wins the popular vote in a state wins all the pledged votes of the state’s electors.
Critics of the Electoral College system, of which there are more than a few, point out that the system allows the possibility of a candidate actually losing the nationwide popular vote, but being elected president by the electoral vote. Can that happen? Yes, and it has. AN ELABORATE PROCESS The United States is apparently unique among the world’s democracies in how the political parties determine the presidential nominee. The national political parties act like the owners of a franchise (“the brand”); state parties then operate within a set of national standards or guidelines.
Violate those and you could lose your delegates, just ask the Florida Democratic party (the fourth most populous state in the country). Some states have primaries; others, caucuses. Some are open to all, regardless of party; others are closed to only those voters who have officially declared a party affiliation, noted on their voter registration cards. One might argue that this is federalism at its finest. The use of voting apparatus that mimics November elections, however, muddies the (separate) waters of nomination and election.
• How the US electoral system works. http://www. timesonline. co. uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3108011. ec • US election issues. http://search. ft. com/ftArticle? queryText=us+election+system&aje=false&id=080101000130&ct=0&nclick_check=1 • US political system and voting. http://usgovinfo. about. com/od/thepoliticalsystem/US_Political_System_and _Voting. htm • Problems abound in the election system. http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/articl