Please explain government election procedures.

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rylemdr
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Please explain government election procedures.

Post by rylemdr »

I am trying to understand how politicians are elected to their respective seats in government here in the United States.

I don't understand why politicians target individual states instead of individuals.

Back in my country, every single vote counts as one point towards a candidate.

Here it seems different. It seems as if a person's vote only counts towards his/her state, and the winner of that state wins the votes and the ones who voted for the other candidate loses.

Am I understanding this right?

If anyone can direct me to a website explaining how election procedures are here in the USA, that would be a big help.
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Post by livesoft »

It depends on what election and office you are writing about: Local, State, Federal. I have lived overseas and the school children where I lived were taught more about US elections than kids in the US are taught.
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tludwig23
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Post by tludwig23 »

Yes, in the United States we use a system called the electoral college. With a couple of exceptions (Maine and Nebraska), the winner of the popular vote in each state receives all the electoral votes for that state. This only applies to national elections, and the only offices elected in national elections are President and Vice President, which are voted for together on a single ticket.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_ ... _States%29
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dm200
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Post by dm200 »

tludwig23 wrote:Yes, in the United States we use a system called the electoral college. With a couple of exceptions (Maine and Nebraska), the winner of the popular vote in each state receives all the electoral votes for that state. This only applies to national elections, and the only offices elected in national elections are President and Vice President, which are voted for together on a single ticket.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_ ... _States%29
This only applies to the election of the President (and Vice-President).
gkaplan
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Post by gkaplan »

I Googled "electoral process" and came up with this page. Maybe some of these links would be helpful for you. (Probably for me, as well.)

http://www.google.com/search?q=electora ... =firefox-a
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MooseDad
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Post by MooseDad »

rylemdr wrote:Here it seems different. It seems as if a person's vote only counts towards his/her state, and the winner of that state wins the votes and the ones who voted for the other candidate loses.

Am I understanding this right?
The short answer is yes, you are understanding this right. The long answer is a bit more complicated, involving the US Constitution and something called the Electoral College. Here are some links to get you started. Note that this thread borders on political and is likely to get locked because it has no direct investment content.

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/vote/p ... ions.shtml

http://bensguide.gpo.gov/9-12/election/

http://www.archives.gov/federal-registe ... about.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_democracy
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rylemdr
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Post by rylemdr »

Thank you for the link. It still seems vague though.

So, assuming we are only counting 3 states(to simplify things)..

State A has a population of 1,000,000 and candidate A wins 99%. Candidate B wins 1%

State B has a population of 60,000 and candidate A wins 49%. Candidate B wins 51%

State C has a population of 25,000 and candidate A wins 49%. Candidate B wins 51%

In this case, candidate B still wins even though he has less individual votes because he won two states? Am I getting this right?

How does one calculate the "weight" of one's vote?

If I live in a lower populated state, does that mean my vote weighs more than someone who lives in a high-pop state?
Last edited by rylemdr on Tue Sep 06, 2011 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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rylemdr
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Post by rylemdr »

MooseDad wrote:
rylemdr wrote:Here it seems different. It seems as if a person's vote only counts towards his/her state, and the winner of that state wins the votes and the ones who voted for the other candidate loses.

Am I understanding this right?
The short answer is yes, you are understanding this right. The long answer is a bit more complicated, involving the US Constitution and something called the Electoral College. Here are some links to get you started. Note that this thread borders on political and is likely to get locked because it has no direct investment content.

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/vote/p ... ions.shtml

http://bensguide.gpo.gov/9-12/election/

http://www.archives.gov/federal-registe ... about.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_democracy
Thank you for the links and for the warning. I will read up on this when I get back from work :)
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Post by tludwig23 »

rylemdr wrote:Thank you for the link. It still seems vague though.

So, assuming we are only counting 3 states(to simplify things)..

State A has a population of 1,000,000 and candidate A wins 99%. Candidate B wins 1%

State B has a population of 60,000 and candidate A wins 49%. Candidate B wins 51%

State C has a population of 25,000 and candidate A wins 49%. Candidate B wins 51%

In this case, candidate B still wins even though he has less individual votes because he won two states? Am I getting this right?

How does one calculate the "weight" of one's vote?

If I live in a lower populated state, does that mean my vote weighs more than someone who lives in a high-pop state?
Well not exactly. I'd suggest reading some of the above links. In the example you made up, State A might have 25 electoral votes, State B 5 and State C 3. So although Candidate B won two states (of three) he only has 8 electoral votes (versus 25), and thus has lost both the overall popular vote and the electoral college vote.
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Kenkat
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Post by Kenkat »

Each state gets electoral votes equal to the number of representatives in Congress. Since each state has at least one representative and two senators, each state, no matter how small, has at least 3 votes. This prevents it from being a straight contest of popular votes in which one large state can overwhelm many smaller ones. Of course, larger states can still overwhelm the votes of smaller states - the electoral college system was the founding fathers' best attempt to offset the interests of small states and large states enough to get them to approve the Constitution. Which worked, although not without much future controversy.
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Post by Alex Frakt »

Again, the one winner per state applies only to the presidential election. Lesser offices are typically decided by the person who gets the most votes in the appropriate geographic area: from entire states for US senators down to parts of cities for things like school district boards. In some areas, if there are multiple candidates and no one receives at least 50% of the votes cast, there is a runoff vote between the top two candidates.

But before you get to the election, for many political positions you must first win your political party's nomination. This is done through a primary election which for partisan elections is typically (although not always) only open to registered members of that party. The presidential primaries are in the very early stages right now for the Republican party. The Democratic party will go through the same thing, but it's pretty much pro forma for the party with a sitting president who is seeking re-election.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_el ... ted_States

Note: I will lock this civics lesson as soon as it looks like it's been answered sufficiently. :-)
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Post by DiscoBunny1979 »

rylemdr wrote:Thank you for the link. It still seems vague though.

So, assuming we are only counting 3 states(to simplify things)..

State A has a population of 1,000,000 and candidate A wins 99%. Candidate B wins 1%

State B has a population of 60,000 and candidate A wins 49%. Candidate B wins 51%

State C has a population of 25,000 and candidate A wins 49%. Candidate B wins 51%

In this case, candidate B still wins even though he has less individual votes because he won two states? Am I getting this right?

How does one calculate the "weight" of one's vote?

If I live in a lower populated state, does that mean my vote weighs more than someone who lives in a high-pop state?
--------

The electoral college is a winner take all in each state. However, the electoral college votes obtained is pre-weighted based on the number of congresspeople or senators for each state. Therefore, the theory is that smaller states have as much say in a larger populated state because the weight has be predetermined by number of representatives of that state, which is based on population districts. That's where the "politics" comes in concerning drawing district lines.
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Post by Sidney »

Alex Frakt wrote:Again, the one winner per state applies only to the presidential election. Lesser offices are typically decided by the person who gets the most votes in the appropriate geographic area: from entire states for US senators down to parts of cities for things like school district boards. In some areas, if there are multiple candidates and no one receives at least 50% of the votes cast, there is a runoff vote between the top two candidates.

But before you get to the election, for many political positions you must first win your political party's nomination. This is done through a primary election which for partisan elections is typically (although not always) only open to registered members of that party. The presidential primaries are in the very early stages right now for the Republican party. The Democratic party will go through the same thing, but it's pretty much pro forma for the party with a sitting president who is seeking re-election.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_el ... ted_States

Note: I will lock this civics lesson as soon as it looks like it's been answered sufficiently. :-)
Once we have all mastered this, do we move on to how sausage is made? :lol:
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.
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Post by Alex Frakt »

Sidney wrote:Once we have all mastered this, do we move on to how sausage is made? :lol:
We have a policy against offensive topics on this subforum. :wink:

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