Arguably one of the most crucial foundations of a democratic society, either through a democracy or a republic, is the elections posed to choose government officials. It is through this process in which citizens elect their leaders to represent them on the federal stage. Long gone are the days where leaders ruled unimpeded and the concept of choice was merely a delusional fantasy. Yet despite the integral role elections play and the progress they represent, a fundamental question remains, how do elections work?
In truth, elections are not as simple as casting one vote and calling it a day. In fact, elections call for multiple votes that decide the fate of officials on numerous levels. Even these votes do not include other elections that occur before the general election. Then it is considered how all these elections are interrelated. While the prior statements can sound convoluted within themselves, it does not need to be difficult to have a grasp of elections. This article, in humble regards, hopes to explain the process behind elections in its fullest sense.
Primaries and Caucuses
A primary election must function just like anything else. A primary election is when the state election of delegates goes to a nominating convention that chooses a major party’s presidential candidate. In some states, mini conventions choose delegates. Primaries could be closed, allowing only declared party members to vote, enabling all voters to choose what presidential candidate they like best. There are various dates in which the people could choose their nominee. This includes upcoming general elections, local elections, or by-elections.
A caucus is different, however. It is a meeting of party leaders selecting candidates and electing convention delegates to establish that party’s policy position. This term varies between different countries and political cultures. This process has eventually caught its way up to many Commonwealth places. In those places, it overall refers itself to a regular meeting with Parliament who belongs to a parliamentary party. These parties can be very powerful. This is because it can eliminate a party’s leader at any given time.
Local and State Election
Continuing the ascent up the ladder of political elections, local elections are the next rung. In local elections, officials are elected to serve local interests and priorities. These officials may be chosen directly by a popular vote or be appointed by a local council to serve a position. These positions can range from city mayors to council members, some of whom may be required to be non-partisan. Ballots can also include ballot initiatives that can override legislature decisions in favor of a majority of citizen votes. These measures may either be direct, where an initiative goes straight to the ballot, or indirect, where it must go through a legislature first before reaching the ballot.
State elections are subsequently larger than local elections and are key to determining state law and officials. Officials who serve state governments may be elected directly by vote or indirectly through appointment, like local elections. These elections are regulated and maintained by state governments rather than through federal oversight. It is through this in which states can freely conduct its elections and certify its results, but any limitation or expansion of an election must remain within federal constraints. States have great autonomy regarding elections, so much so that the right to vote remains enshrined within their states.
On every convened year, registered voters elect their congressional representatives. These Congressional elections will determine who will represent your state in Congress. When this happens, members of the House serve a two-year term, while senators serve six-year terms. Congressional posts are made to be representative of the whole area they represent and are elected directly by voters within that district or state. In this process, each group has its own special procedure when it is elected.
The General Election
On the final stride of the ascent up the political election ladder, general elections prominently claim the top rung. Yet before the general election is held and the presidential race begins, a national political convention is convened to finalize a party’s presidential nominee. This occurs after delegates at the primaries and caucuses hold a majority vote in favor of a political candidate to become the presidential nominee. After the votes are finalized, the now presidential nominee will declare his/her vice-presidential running mate and initiate a campaign for president.
Afterwards, the general election begins and eventually finishes every four years. The general election is held to fulfill either a full vacancy in the White House or after the completion of the four-year presidential term, regardless of vacancy. Through this election is when political candidates campaign in different states to court voters into voting for them. After a series of campaigns are completed and campaign funds begin to run low, Election Day will be held. Election Day is held on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. This is when citizens will cast their vote, but with an important caveat.
This caveat presents itself as the electoral college, the real deciding factor of the presidency. Frequent to discord in political circles, the electoral college casts the votes of its electors to decide the president rather than through a popular vote. With 538 electors in total, each state’s number of electors is decided by its number of members in Congress. To win the election, a candidate must win at least 270 electors, or half of 538. These electors go towards the winner of their state’s voting tally, but in rare cases there might be “faithless” electors who do not vote in line with their state’s votes. In the even rarer circumstance that neither candidate wins 270 electors, the House of Representatives will choose the president and the Senate will choose the vice-president.
This video is discussing the reasons why systems of government help each state to function easier. It also helps us understand why we need the systems of government. It describes how states work together to form a unified government.
To be certain, elections are long and arduous processes to complete, if not made to be more convoluted than what elections are generally perceived to be. Though, through the rungs of the ladder were climbed to showcase each type of election, starting from primary to concluding with the general election. A slight detour was also included, but to instead give greater visibility on how students are taught and will learn about elections and government.
To state that this article may have been a doozy to read in its entirety is perhaps not an embellishment. However, the greatest applauds to the audience who sat through with the intentions of expanding their knowledge on elections and the processes behind them. Those who did read through the article, and perhaps took a second swing around, are encouraged to share how they found this article interesting and what their favorite part was all about.