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Elections Introduction

Page history last edited by Sarah Mann 14 years, 4 months ago


Previous Section: Elections                                                                                                                                                             


Introduction to Elections





What is an election?  An election is a “formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.”  Elections have been used in democratic governments since about the seventeenth century.  Elections allow for a representative government, where the people themselves are represented by the officials they elect.



In the United States, elections happen at local, state, and national levels.  The elections process differs depending upon the level.  For local elections, citizens vote in different counties and cities for offices.  At the state level, there are many elected offices and each state has at least an elective governor and legislature.  For national or federal elections, the head of state, the President is elected through the Electoral College, by the vote of the people.  Electors vote with the popular vote of their state.  Congress is also elected through the Electoral College.  The election process is defined in the United States Constitution.  Article I and Article II, along with some various amendments, describe the process of federal elections and state the requirements for holding office.



Elections are not only held to select a representative.  A recall election is a process through which voters can shorten an office holder's term.  This happens only at the state and local levels.  In order to hold a recall election, an official petition is needed that typically involves the names of at least 25% of the people who voted for the official in the prior election.  If the majority wins the recall election, the official is removed from office.  Citizens also vote on referendums.  A referendum is the process through which voters may vote on new laws, statutory issues, in turn increasing the voters' power over government.  In order for voters to vote on referendums, initiatives must be proposed, processes through which voters may propose new laws.




Images (in order they appear): 


"United States Seal Image" UnitedStatesGovernmentCompliance.com, http://images.google.com/imgres?



          -_NG8oM:&tbnh=120&tbnw=120&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dus%2Bseal%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26um%3D1.> (5 November 2009).


“Gerrymandering=Government Corruption” StealingOurVotes.com,http://www.statehousereport.com/images/cartoons/06.1103.cartoon_large.jpg> (11 December 2009).



Meltzer, Tony and Paul Levy, eds., Cracking the AP U.S. Government & Politics Exam 2010 Edition. New York: Random House, Inc., 2009.




Next Section: Political Parties






Comments (2)

mberry said

at 9:17 am on Nov 17, 2009

There are now (since the Progressive Era) other kinds of elections wherein citizens are voting to recall elected officials AND to vote on actual statutory issues (gay marriage for example). Need to add the recall, petition, and referendum to your definition above and have a section discussing these different kinds of elections. A good discussion of these can be found in Thomas Cronin's article in the media reading. We also discussed this during lecture all those weeks ago!

Sarah Mann said

at 11:43 am on Dec 12, 2009

Dr. Berry, is the third paragraph now too detailed for an introduction?

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