Election and electoral system lecture notes pdf

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election and electoral system lecture notes pdf

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In order for that influence to be meaningful, citizens must send clear signals to their leaders about what they wish the government to do. It only makes sense, then, that a democracy will benefit if voters have several clearly differentiated options available to them at the polls on Election Day. Having these options means voters can select a candidate who more closely represents their own preferences on the important issues of the day.

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January 16, — November 5, RL American voters elect the President and Vice President of the United States indirectly, through an arrangement known as the electoral college system. The electoral college system comprises a complex mosaic of constitutional provisions, state and federal laws, and political party rules and practices. Although the electoral college system has delivered uncontested results in 46 out of 50 presidential elections since it assumed its present constitutional form in , it has been the subject of persistent criticism and frequent proposals for reform.

Reform advocates cite several problems with the current system, including a close or multi-candidate election can result in no electoral college majority, leading to a contingent election in Congress; the current system can result in the election of a President and Vice President who received a majority of electoral votes, but fewer popular votes, than their opponents; the formula for assignment of electoral votes is claimed to provide an unfair advantage for less populous states and does not account for population changes between censuses; and the winner-take-all system used by most states does not recognize the proportional strength of the losing major party, minor party, and independent candidates.

They maintain that repair of the electoral college system, rather than abolition, would eliminate any perceived defects while retaining its overall strengths. Proponents of presidential election reform generally advocate either completely eliminating the electoral college system, replacing it with direct popular election, or repairing perceived defects in the existing system.

The direct election alternative would replace the electoral college with a single, nationwide count of popular votes. Major reforms of the system can be effected only by constitutional amendment, a process that requires two-thirds approval by both houses of Congress, followed by ratification by three-fourths 38 of the states, usually within a period of seven years.

This report will be updated as events warrant. Electoral college reform proposals include 1 the district plan, awarding each state's two at-large electoral votes to the statewide popular vote winners, and one electoral vote to the winning candidates in each congressional district; 2 the proportional plan, awarding electoral votes in states in direct proportion to the popular vote gained in the state by each candidate; and 3 the automatic plan, awarding all of each state's electoral votes directly on a winner-take-all basis to the statewide vote winners.

The President and the Vice President of the United States are elected indirectly by an institution known as the electoral college. The U. Constitution, in Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, as amended by the 12 th Amendment, together with a series of implementing federal statutes, 1 provides the broad framework through which electors are appointed and by which they cast votes for the President and Vice President. The method of electing the President and Vice President was the subject of considerable discussion at the Constitutional Convention of While some delegates favored direct election of the President, others opposed it on the grounds that the people would lack sufficient knowledge of the character and qualifications of presidential and vice presidential candidates to make intelligent electoral decisions.

Indirect election of the chief executive, by Congress, the legislatures of the states, or even by electors drawn by lot, enjoyed equally wide or greater support. Moreover, the delegates were reluctant to set uniform national voting standards for federal elections, believing this to be a prerogative of the states. Finally, delegates from less populous states feared that presidential elections might be dominated by a few large states.

The Convention settled on a compromise plan: the electoral college system. The electors then meet in their respective states to vote. Among its more attractive elements, it removed election from Congress, thus reinforcing separation of powers, acknowledged the federal principle by requiring electoral votes to be cast by state, and made it at least possible that some of the people would be able to vote, albeit indirectly, for the nation's chief executive.

For instance, while the Constitution did not mandate popular participation in the selection of electors, neither did it prohibit it, leaving the question to state discretion. In fact, the states moved to provide for direct popular choice of electors by the voters beginning in the late 18 th Century. By , only South Carolina's legislature continued to select the state's presidential electors, and since the Civil War, electors have been popularly chosen in all states.

The Constitution originally provided that each elector would cast two votes, for different persons, for President. The person winning the most electoral votes, provided the total was a majority of the total number of electors, would become President; the person winning the next largest number would become Vice President.

There was to be no separate vote for Vice President. This system understandably failed to envision the growth of political parties in the new republic, which would nominate unified tickets of nominees for President and Vice President. By , a nascent party system proposed competing candidacies of John Adams and Thomas Pinckney for the federalists, and Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr for the anti-federalists or republicans.

When Adams and Jefferson again contested the election of , with Burr again as Jefferson's designated vice presidential running mate, the republicans won a solid majority of electors, but failed to have one elector cast his vote for someone other than Jefferson. Jefferson and Burr were thus tied for the presidency, and the election went to the House of Representatives. The electoral college "misfire" threw the nation into its first, and one of its worst, constitutional crises, as federalists and dissident republicans plotted and caballed to deny Jefferson the presidency.

The House required 35 deadlocked ballots before the impasse was broken and Jefferson was elected. The shock of the election led directly to proposal of the 12 th Amendment in and its speedy ratification in The system was revised so that electors would cast one vote each for President and Vice President, thus compartmentalizing the two contests.

As before, the candidates who gained a majority of electoral votes would be elected President and Vice President; if there were no majority, the House of Representatives would elect the President and the Senate, the Vice President.

The total number of electors comprising the electoral college equals the total combined congressional representation of each state House plus Senate seats , plus three electors representing the District of Columbia. Presently, electors are apportioned to the states and the District of Columbia based on: 1 Senators; 2 Representatives; and 3 3 electors representing the District of Columbia.

The current allocation of electoral votes by state, which remains in effect for the and presidential elections, follows. Under Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution, as amended by the 12 th Amendment in , each state is required to appoint electors in the manner directed by its state legislature. In , the 23 rd Amendment provided for three electors from the District of Columbia. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa are not constitutionally entitled to electors, because they are not states.

Article II provides that Congress may determine the date for selecting electors and mandates that the date chosen be uniform throughout the United States. Senators and Representatives and a wide range of state and local officials at this time, which is generally known as national election day.

Election day falls on November 2 in Article II further authorizes Congress to determine the date for the electors to meet and cast their ballots 10 and, hence, federal law provides that on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December following each presidential election, the electors meet at a place designated by each state to vote for the President and Vice President.

After the electoral college delegations meet in their states and cast votes for President and Vice President, according to the 12 th Amendment and applicable federal law, the certified results are transmitted to Congress and to other designated authorities.

Objections to either individual electoral votes or state electoral vote totals may be made by Members of Congress at the joint electoral vote count session. Such objections must be presented in writing and signed by one Senator and one Representative to be in order.

If a valid objection is raised, the session recesses; the Senate returns to its own chamber, and the two houses deliberate separately on the question. Debate is limited to two hours, and each Member is limited to five minutes speaking time on the floor. At the end of the two hours, the House and Senate vote separately on the objection, and the joint session reassembles.

If both houses vote to sustain the objection, the electoral vote or votes in question are not counted. In , the only occasion on which contingent election was conducted under the 12 th Amendment, a majority of votes within multi-member state House delegations was required to cast each state vote.

In the Senate, the Vice President is elected from among the two candidates who received the most electoral votes, with each Senator casting a single vote.

In the House, a majority of 26 or more state votes is required to elect; in the Senate, a majority of 51 or more votes is required to elect. Proponents of presidential election reform cite several shortcomings in the electoral college as justifications for reform or abolition of the current system. As noted previously in this report, if the presidential and vice presidential candidates fail to receive a simple majority of the electoral college votes, the 12 th Amendment provides that the House of Representatives chooses the President and the Senate chooses the Vice President by contingent election.

Some commentators have criticized the presidential contingent election, claiming it created a "constitutional crisis" because the House, according to Jackson supporters, appeared to select a President as part of a political "corrupt bargain" between Adams and Henry Clay, who had been disqualified from the contingent election process because he came in fourth, after Jackson, Adams, and Crawford, in electoral vote totals recall that the 12 th Amendment limits contingent election candidates to the top three electoral vote winners.

That is, members of the House and Senate are free to exercise their choice without regard to the winners of the popular vote in their districts, states, or in the nation at large. Moreover, by effectively granting each state an equal vote, the contingent election system fails to account for great differences in population—and the number of votes cast—in the various states. On the other hand, others point out that the House contingent election resulted in a political backlash that ultimately facilitated Andrew Jackson's successful election four years later.

As a result, supporters maintain, the contingent election system has demonstrated that it does function by channeling voter dissatisfaction into subsequent political action.

In evaluating the contingent election process, some commentators have suggested that any threshold inquiry requires assessing how often contingent election occurs.

That is, if the results of a general election are frequently inconclusive, thereby increasing the likelihood of contingent election, then democratic criteria would require implementing reforms that "bring The most recent example of a third-party candidate winning electoral votes occurred in with the minor party candidacy of George C.

Wallace, who won 46 electoral college votes in six southern states. It is also important to note, when considering the contingent election procedure, that the 12 th Amendment does not provide for District of Columbia participation in a contingent election in the House and Senate.

While the ratification of the 23 rd Amendment in granted the District of Columbia three votes in the electoral college, the District of Columbia would be effectively disenfranchised in a contingent election, as it is not a state and sends neither Senators nor Representatives to Congress.

Reform proponents also cite the fact that the current electoral college system can result in the election of a so-called "minority" president, i. Indeed, in the s, the electoral college system led to the election of three such "minority" presidents, namely, John Quincy Adams in , Rutherford B.

Hayes in , and Benjamin Harrison in In , John Quincy Adams received fewer popular and electoral votes than Andrew Jackson, his major opponent, but was chosen President by contingent election as noted previously, both ran as Democratic Republicans. In , Republican Rutherford B. Hayes received fewer popular votes than his opponent, Democrat Samuel J.

Tilden, but won the election by one electoral vote. In the presidential election of , Republican Benjamin Harrison received fewer popular votes than his major opponent, Democrat Grover Cleveland, but won the election with more electoral college votes. Most recently, for the first time in years, the very closely contested presidential election of resulted in a President and Vice President who received a majority of electoral votes, but fewer popular votes than the electoral vote runners-up.

The popular vote results for that election were: Gore and Lieberman: 50,,; for Bush and Cheney: 50,, As the composition of the electoral college is based on state representation in Congress, some maintain it is inconsistent with the "one person, one vote" principle.

Since state electoral college delegations are equal to the combined total of each state's Senate and House delegation, the composition of the electoral college thus appears to be weighted in favor of the small states. The two "senatorial" electors and the one "representative" elector to which each state is entitled may advantage smaller states over more populous ones because voters in the smaller states, in effect, cast more electoral votes per voter.

For instance, in , voters in Wyoming, the least populous state, cast , popular votes and three electoral votes for President, or one electoral vote for every 72, voters.

By comparison, Californians cast 10,, popular votes and 54 electoral votes, or one electoral vote for every , While it is generally recognized that small states possess an arithmetical advantage in the electoral college, some observers hold that, conversely, the most populous large states enjoy a "voting power" advantage, because they control the largest blocs of electoral votes. For example, voters in more populous states are better able to influence a larger bloc of electoral votes than those in less populous ones, because of the winner-take-all method of allocating electoral votes.

Thus, to use the previously cited examples, a voter in Wyoming in could influence only three electoral votes, whereas a voter in California could influence 54 electoral votes in the same presidential election. According to this argument, known as the "voting power" theory, the electoral college system actually provides an advantage to the six most populous states California, 55 electoral votes; Texas, 34 electoral votes; New York, 31 electoral votes; Florida, 27 electoral votes; and Pennsylvania and Illinois, 21 electoral votes each and disadvantages all other states and the District of Columbia.

Another theory advanced during debate on electoral college reform centers on the asserted advantage enjoyed by ethnic minority voters. According to this argument, minority voters, e. By virtue of this concentration, they are presumably able to exert greater influence over the outcomes in such states because they tend to vote overwhelmingly for candidates whose policies they perceive to be favorable to their interests, and thus helping to gain these states and their electoral votes for the favored candidates.

These arguments were advanced by the Presidents of the American Jewish Congress and the National Urban League as reasons for their support of the electoral college system during hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution as it considered a direct election amendment in Under Article II, Section 1, clause 2 of the Constitution, electors are appointed in "such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.

Blacker, 33 held that state legislatures have the exclusive power to direct the manner in which presidential and vice presidential electors are appointed. Moreover, aside from Congress having the authority, under this provision, to determine the time of choosing electors and the day on which they vote, the power of the several states is exclusive. Accordingly, a state legislature has the authority to determine, for example, whether its electors will be allocated according to the general ticket system or the district system.

Presently, 48 states and the District of Columbia Maine and Nebraska are the exceptions, having adopted the district system have adopted the winner-take-all method of allocating electors. Under this method, the slate of electors, representing the presidential and vice presidential ticket that wins a plurality of votes in a state is elected on election day in November, and later meets in mid-December as the electoral college to cast all of the state's electoral ballots for the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates.

The Electoral College: An Overview and Analysis of Reform Proposals

The Electoral College is a uniquely American institution and no stranger to controversy. But legally contested presidential elections within its system are not the norm for a part of the Constitution that dates back to However, in the possibility of a contested presidential election has been discussed, at least among academics, for months. According to the Election Law Blog , at least lawsuits were in play as of September 28 related to COVID election issues, ranging from disputes about the postal service to deadlines to witness requirements. How rare are contested presidential elections? In the 58 presidential elections held since , only three presidents have been elected after the regular Electoral College process played out.

Electoral systems are the central political institution in representative democracies. They convert votes into seats and structure the choices facing voters. They also affect the behaviour of political parties, individual MPs, and candidates. This book looks at three kinds of issues. Thus, the book includes detailed studies of the operation of electoral systems in 22 countries. It establishes the reasons behind the initial adoption of an electoral system and discusses who supports the current electoral system and who opposes it, who benefits from it and who loses out, reviewing the current debate in each country on the question of electoral reform.


An electoral system is a set of rules for conducting an election. These rules specify which public officials are subject to election, who is eligible to vote, how those.


Tanzania: Electoral system

An electoral system is the method used to calculate the number of elected positions in government that individuals and parties are awarded after elections. In simpler terms, it described how votes are translated into seats. There are many different types of electoral system, but in the UK the main differentiator is between proportional and non-proportional electoral systems. The Party gets the same proportion of seats as votes, with seats being allocated in the same order as the party list. A quota is calculated depending on the seats available and the number of voters.

Electronic voting also known as e-voting is voting that uses electronic means to either aid or take care of casting and counting votes. Depending on the particular implementation, e-voting may use standalone electronic voting machines also called EVM or computers connected to the Internet. It may encompass a range of Internet services, from basic transmission of tabulated results to full-function online voting through common connectable household devices.

An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations. The universal use of elections as a tool for selecting representatives in modern representative democracies is in contrast with the practice in the democratic archetype , ancient Athens , where the Elections were not used were considered an oligarchic institution and most political offices were filled using sortition , also known as allotment, by which officeholders were chosen by lot.

Political Choice: Competitive Electoral Systems

The Politics of Electoral Systems

This article was amended in to abolish the requirement for an absolute majority National Electoral Commission , 5 ; National Elections Act, 35F 8. A foreign donor basket was set up after the withdrawal of State funding to provide funds for political parties. Voters who are waiting to vote at closing time are permitted to vote National Elections Act, If the office of the President becomes vacant due to death, resignation etc the Vice President completes the term of office and if Parliament is dissolved presidential as well as National Assembly elections must be held Constitution , 37 5 , 38 2 a ; see also Article

January 16, — November 5, RL American voters elect the President and Vice President of the United States indirectly, through an arrangement known as the electoral college system. The electoral college system comprises a complex mosaic of constitutional provisions, state and federal laws, and political party rules and practices. Although the electoral college system has delivered uncontested results in 46 out of 50 presidential elections since it assumed its present constitutional form in , it has been the subject of persistent criticism and frequent proposals for reform.

Last modified 8 November DeMillo, and P. Stark, Ballot-marking devices cannot assure the will of the voters. Spertus, and P.


PDF | The sine qua non of representative democracies is a process of elections that is fair and competitive. This is the role of electoral institutions, | Find, read.


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