Term Paper: Election Americans Elect the President

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Americans elect the President of the United States through the complex medium of the Electoral College. The Constitution allocates to each state electors equal in number to its representation in the two houses of Congress. In our own day, political parties prepare a list of electors loyal to their candidates, and the people usually vote for one set or another. In most cases, the candidate whose slate wins the majority or plurality of the popular vote in a state is assured of receiving all of its electoral votes. The electors gather in their home state, and each of them casts one vote for President and another for Vice President. The candidate who receives a majority of the electoral vote for President and the one who gets the majority for Vice President win these offices Kuroda, T. (1994, pg 1).

The last two presidential elections in the United States have caused concern and debates about the way Americans select their presidents to resurface, mainly because of the closeness of the two races -- including one in which the candidate who got the most popular votes did not become president (Dulio, 2005, pg 748)."

Equality is considered to be the core element of all electoral systems existing anywhere in the world. Any form of variance in this is said to give rise to unequal representation of people. The electoral system of United States has gone way past the point of this variance and comprises an extremely high level of inequality. The super-rich assert a great deal of influence as they fund the elections, while the opinion and problems of the poor are ignored. American democracy is severely damaged by this imbalanced electoral system (Mandle and Mandle 1999).

It is clear that electoral systems carry a lot of substance. This is perhaps the only way to interlink the policy made by the government to the desires of the general public. Held (1997) believes the citizen participation in politics is critical and the best way for the citizens to express their opinion is through the electoral systems (Held, 1997). The political establishment within a country chooses the kind of electoral system they wish to have, and once in place, the electoral system has political consequences for the establishment (Farrell, 2001). Farrell (2001) believes the six different electoral systems operational in different countries are currently the best of the lot. These six electoral systems are:

Single member plurality;

Alternative vote;

Two-round systems;


Single transferable vote; and Mixed systems.

In this study we propose that mixed-electoral system is the best electoral structure for the United States considering the high levels of inequality in the present system. Furthermore, we propose that it should adopt a PR list tier next to a majoritarian nominal tier. Also, we propose that the United States chooses the "connection" model (Massicotte and Blais, 1999) between nominal and list tiers. Lastly, we propose that the United States should employ a closed-list for selecting candidates who run for elections.

Mixed Electoral Systems

Scholars have generally divided the electoral system into 2 main categories. The first is the majoritarian electoral system, where preference is given to single-seat districts with plurality rule and in addition gives larger representation to those 2 parties, which acquired majority of the votes. As noted by Reynolds (1999; pg 90): "The main choice of electoral system is between plurality-majority systems and proportional representation systems. Plurality-majority systems most often use single member districts. In a plurality or first-past-the-post system, the winner is the candidate with the most votes, not necessarily an absolute majority of the votes (i.e. 50 per cent plus one). Majoritarian systems, such as the Australian alternative vote and the French two-ballot system, try to ensure that the winning candidate receives an absolute majority. Each system in essence uses second preferences to produce a majority winner if no one emerges on the first round of voting."

The second is proportional electoral system, which utilize multi-seat regions, generally with a listing of candidates of each party, and usually generate parliamentary representation that mainly reflects the vote distribution of several parties. Taagepera and Shugart (1989) assert that the impact on the party system can be displayed on a scale ranging from completely proportional to highly proportional (Taagepera and Shugart, 1989). As noted by Reynolds (1999; pg 90): "The rationale underpinning all proportional representation systems is to reduce the disparity between a party's share of the national votes and its share of the parliamentary seats. For example, if a major party wins 40 per cent of the votes, it should win approximately 40 per cent of the seats. Likewise, a minor party with 10 per cent should also gain a tenth of the parliamentary seats. Proportionality is best approximated by using lists, where political parties present lists of candidates to the voters; or the single transferable vote, where voters rank candidates in multi-member districts."

In the past, political establishments have tended to adopt either a "plurality system" or a "proportional system" (Nohlen 1984a). However, a new electoral revolution is beginning to dawn on the surface of the political systems of major democracies around the world. This phenomenon comprises the inclusion and mixture of both forms of electoral systems. Countries that have adopted such a system consist of: Japan, New Zealand, Israel, Italy, and Venezuela. These countries use a model where half of the seats in the governmental-assembly are voted in through single-seat districts; at the same time as the remaining half are voted in from party-lists assigned by proportional representation. However there are several differences within the wide-ranging category of mixed-member systems. The creation of such systems has integrated the subsequent models:

1) in Israel, there is an electoral system with only one seat chosen by a majoritarian system;

2) in Italy there is an electoral system where the proportion of seats elected by PR is only a quarter;

3) in Venezuela there is an electoral system where the majoritarian level is elected partially in multi-seat districts; and 4) in Mexico there is an electoral system where a considerable proportion of seats are chosen by lists, however, these seats are not chosen with a PR formula.

Based on the aforementioned facts, providing a general definition of a mixed electoral system cannot be a straight forward task.

Mixed Systems as an alternative of Multiple-Tier Systems

What differentiates mixed electoral systems is the amalgamation of the 2 broad principles in a similar legislative-assembly. On the other hand, such a characterization is extremely wide-ranging. For instance, numerous electoral systems have used majoritarian methods in several districts of the country; at the same time as employing PR in other districts (Schiemann, 1999; Farell, 1997). Massicotte and Blais (1999) assess a wide range of what they refer to as "mixed" systems, which involve some mixture of PR and plurality or majority. A number of other systems utilize models that are "semi-proportional," and therefore may be measured as integrating both principles; instances comprise "the limited vote" and "the single non-transferable vote." Therefore, if categorizing a mixed electoral system as a system founded on combined principles of representation is extremely broad, and if categorizing it as a system of half-majoritarian and half-proportional is extremely limited, then the question is what is the most suitable definition of mixed system?

For this study, we define mixed electoral systems as a division of the wider class of multiple-tier systems of voting. An electoral system utilizes multiple-tiers if seats have been assigned in two, or may be more, overlying sets of regions, in such a way that every voter is allowed to cast at least one vote (or more than one vote) that are utilized to assign seats in more than simply one tier. Models comprise the Belgian system of comparatively minute multi-seat regions, wherein votes are moved into upper tiers founded on districts to guarantee a strong estimation to PR. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria, and Greece are amid the PR structures that utilize two or three tiers of allotment, which typically create the system a lot more proportional than those systems where only one tier is used (Farell, 1997).

Therefore, mixed systems are considered to be an alternative of such multiple-tier structures, with the precise stipulation that one tier has got to involve allotment of seats nominally; at the same time, the other has got to involve allotment of seats by listings. The difference amid the two systems ("nominal" and "list" voting) is founded on the characteristics of the vote given by the voter and how it is utilized to assign seats. In the case of nominal voting, voters give their votes for applicant by their name and as a result seats are assigned to an individual candidate based on the votes he/she receive (Cain, 1987).

List votes, "pool" amid manifold applicants who are chosen from a list, which is presented by a particular political party before the election takes place. Certainly, there are multiple amalgams possible in List votes; however, generally electoral methods split into nominal vs. list structures. In… [END OF PREVIEW]

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