United States Presidential Electoral System
US electoral system is one of the unique election systems there is in the world. Presidential elections in the US happen after every four years, in November, Particularly, after the first day of November. The election process of the US president is generally termed as indirect. This is because registered voters from all the 50 states do not vote for the president directly. What happens is that the registered voters usually cast their votes to elect the electors, who later directly vote for the president. The electors are referred to as the Electoral College. The presidential nominee who gets the most votes from the Electoral College becomes the president.
Who is a viable presidential candidate?
For one to qualify to be a presidential candidate, they must meet various qualifications. The qualifications include: be a natural-born US citizen, must not be less than 35 years and must have been a US resident for the past 14 years but not less. Also, the candidate must have party support and must have had experience working in a state-level office.
How does the US presidential electoral system work?
The electoral system incorporates several steps, which are used to determine the president. These steps include presidential primaries, national conventions, election campaign, the general election, and finally the election by the Electoral College.
Primaries & caucuses
These are elections that happen at the party level; they help political parties select their candidates. Primaries and caucuses are vital since in a single party there could be many individuals who eye the presidential seat. Primaries are usually conducted by state governments to select desirable candidates. In primaries, secret ballot voting is done. Caucuses are meetings conducted by political parties' members at the town, city, district, and county levels. Caucuses are held to choose delegates who later participate in the national conventions.
The number of voters a candidate has represents the number of delegates they have. In the US electoral system, primaries and caucuses are either; closed, open, semi-open or semi-closed.
In Open primaries and caucuses, people to vote for their desirable candidate, irrespective of their political party.
In Closed primaries and caucuses, voting is limited to a party's registered members.
Semi-closed and semi-open primaries and caucuses are a combination of the open and closed primaries and caucuses.
National conventions are usually held when the caucuses and primaries are completed. In these conventions, party delegates that were elected during the primaries and caucuses usually cast votes to select a presidential nominee. Delegates can either be pledged or unpledged. Pledged delegates are also known as bound delegates. These candidates can only vote for the candidates they were told to vote for during the primaries. The unpledged delegates, on the other hand, can vote for the candidate of their choice. The candidate, who has the most delegates, automatically becomes the presidential nominee for that party. Therefore, every party must hold a national convention to select their presidential nominee. The nominee, in turn, selects a running-mate.
After every political party has chosen a presidential candidate, they can then begin campaigning. These candidates aim to get many supporters on board. They, therefore, share their ideas and plans with the potential supporters. Election campaigning generally entails advertising, holding debates and rallies. Additionally, the candidates have to travel throughout the country sharing their manifesto; this ensures they get as much support as they can.
This is where the registered voters from all states cast their votes to select the electors. The electors chosen from the various states usually form an electoral college. The states choose electors typically so that they can vote for a presidential candidate supported by the voters in that state. The number of electors in a state depends on the members it has in the congress. The Electoral College has 538 electors.
The Electoral College vote
After the voters have selected the electors, the Electoral College is formed, which in turn selects the president. Every elector casts a vote, and the presidential candidate who gets over 270 votes becomes the winner. In a case where none of the presidential candidates' attains over 270 votes, it becomes the duty of the House of Representatives to elect the president. The house of representatives does this by voting for a candidate who is among the best three.
Why is the US presidential electoral system special?
In most countries, citizens are allowed to vote for the presidents of their choice through direct voting. However, the US presidential electoral system provides that citizens vote for the president through indirect voting. This has made the presidential elections in the US very unique and distinct from other countries. The voting adopted in the US is termed as indirect since the registered voters usually select the electors who then make the Electoral College. The Electoral College in turn votes for the president. For a candidate to become the president, they must have received more than 270 votes out of a total of the 538 votes cast by the electors.
Additionally, this electoral system has given the house of parliament the authority to vote for a president in a case where none of the presidential candidates acquires the 270 votes. It is unusual to hear of a country where the parliament has such power.
The US presidential elections entail a more prolonged process compared to election systems in many countries. Remember, before a president is chosen, there must be primaries, parties must hold conventions, general elections conducted and campaigns done. Generally, the entire process is very long compared to the election processes that many countries have.
The presidential election system used in the US is one of the unique elections systems in the world. The citizens here vote in a president indirectly by using the Electoral College. However, this election system has been criticized by many and is termed as outdated. Additionally, some citizens say that it undermines the majority rule principle. Despite all these criticisms, the US presidential election system remains unique and very distinct from many others around the world.