The United States Presidential Election System
The United States Presidential Election System
  • Reporter Gwak Jun-ho
  • 승인 2016.03.24 13:26
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The Presidential election of the United States is by reputation one of the most complicated and entertaining election systems. As it elects the most influential man or woman in the world, the election unwillingly became arduous to make sure that the right person is elected.
The President and Vice-President are elected every four years. They must be over 35 years of age, born-native citizens of the United States, and they must have been the residents of the United States for at least 14 years. Also, a person cannot be elected to a third term as President. Once the requirements are met, a candidate for President can declare and register with Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Before the election, most candidates for President go through a series of state primaries which are classified into open and closed, and caucuses. During a closed primary, a voter can only vote for the candidate belonging to the same political party as him or her. During an open primary, a voter can vote for any candidate. Primaries occur through secret ballots. Caucuses give chances for political parties to persuade the undecided voters to support their chosen candidates. At the end of the caucus, party organizers count the number of voters in each candidate’s group and calculate how many delegates each candidate has won.
After the primaries and caucuses, most political parties hold national conventions to select their presidential nominees. During the national conventions period, presidential candidates participate in debates and general election campaigns throughout the country to explain their views and plans to win the support of potential voters.
When American citizens vote for President, they are in fact voting for a group of people known as electors. They are part of Electoral College, the process used to elect the U.S. President and Vice-President. Each elector casts one electoral vote following the general election. There are a total of 538 electors. A candidate needs the vote of more than half (270) to win the presidential election. Each state’s number of electors is equal to the number of its U.S. Senators plus the number of its U.S. Representatives. Washington D.C. is given a number of electors equal to the number held by the smallest state. In 48 states, if a candidate receives the majority of the votes, he or she receives all of the state’s electoral votes.
This can lead to an interesting conclusion where a candidate has gained the most number of popular votes but fail to receive electoral vote and lose the general election. For example, if the United States had three states each with a population of 100, each state would have three electoral votes so the candidate would need five electoral votes to win the election. Candidate 1 wins the first two states with 51 votes each but loses the third state with only one vote, with a total of 103 popular votes. On the other hand, candidate 2 loses the first two states with 49 votes each and wins the third state dominantly by receiving 99 votes, gaining 197 popular votes in total. Even though candidate 1 has fewer popular votes than candidate 2, candidate 1 wins the general election by gaining six electoral votes.