I'm From England - Please Explain How the Voting System Works?!

Discussion in 'Politics' started by dingdong, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. dingdong

    dingdong Member

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    :confused: - I don't understand how the system works?

    Is it just a case of how many states each candidate wins? So would the winning candidate need more than 25 states? :confused:

    What are electoral colleges? :confused:

    SORRY, i must sound so stupid! :redface: I'm just really interested in this! :smile:

    thanks!
     
  2. Industrialsize

    Staff Member Moderator Gold Member

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  3. D_Chaumbrelayne_Copprehead

    D_Chaumbrelayne_Copprehead Account Disabled

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    That link didn't work for me ... basically, here in the US, what matters is not the overall vote total for each candidate, but the Electoral College total.

    When a candidate wins any one of the 50 states, they get a certain number of Electoral Votes. The more people in a state, the more electoral votes. So, it's more important for them to win big California with 55 electoral votes, more so than more sparsely-populated Oregon, with 7 electoral votes.

    When a candidate gets more than half the electoral votes to be gotten (each state has as many votes as they have senators and representatives in congress), that person wins that particular state.

    In 2000, either Al Gore or George W. Bush would have won, depending on who won Florida. The Florida vote as practically a tie, and the Electoral Vote was that close. We won't go into that whole ugly story here, but that's basically how the system works. Usually, the Electoral College shows a definite majority even in close elections, however.

    If you're curious to watch the results, they start coming in around 7pm Eastern time (which I think is midnight in the UK). msnbc.com mobile is a website for the cable news channel MSNBC, where you can find a link for "Live MSNBC TV."
     
  4. ital8

    ital8 New Member

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    Our system can be a little confusing. A candidate needs 270 electoral college votes to win an election. Meaning each state has a certain amount of electoral college votes. The big states like California and New York are awarded larger electoral college votes due to the amount of population in those states. So for example, if the majority of the people from New Jersey (that's where I live) voted Democrat then the Democratic nominee would be awarded a certain amount of electoral college votes. It is possible for a candidate to win an election without even winning the popular vote.

    Anyone feel free to correct me if I am wrong or something needs to be added.

    Don't feel bad for asking, a lot of Americans still aren't quite sure how our system works.
     
    #4 ital8, Nov 4, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  5. lucky8

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    In short, each state has a certain amount of electoral votes based on population distribution. Citizens cast their votes, and there are people called electors. Each state has as many electors as they do senators and representatives. Even though we cast our ballots for certain candidates, we basically vote for these electors in hopes that they will vote the way they have pledged to vote. Once a candidate receives 270 votes from the electors, the candidate wins the presidency. Thus, popular vote doesn't always guarentee victory because the electors may vote in a different fashion than the population.
     
  6. MarkLondon

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    Hmm, so are these Electors duty-bound to vote the way the simple majority of their state's voters did? If a state's voters vote 51% Republican, 49% Democrat do the Electors' votes automatically all go for the Republican candidate?

    And are these Electors the same people with a different mandate depending on the popular vote, or are they party members who get to attend the Electoral College depending on whose party won the state vote?

    Could a maverick Elector switch sides?
     
  7. B_stanmarsh14

    B_stanmarsh14 New Member

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  8. lucky8

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    I'm pretty sure the electors can vote in any way they want to, but they usually pledge themselves to a candidate prior to the election.

    The candidate that wins the most votes state wide receives all of the electoral votes from that state though. That's why candidates want to win the popular vote in big states, so they can have more electoral votes in the end.
     
    #8 lucky8, Nov 4, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  9. NCbear

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    Yep, the Wikipedia entry says it all. And has pictures. :biggrin1:

    Thank God my heating system for my house, my personal mode of transportation, the clothing I wear, and the social customs in which I currently interact with others are not modern-day remnants of flawed first drafts of Enlightenment thinking--as is the United States' electoral college.

    NCbear (who's glad he doesn't have to wear multiple layers of smoke-smelling wool in the winter in order to stay warm)
     
  10. houtx48

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    best lies and most money to throw at it................wins
     
  11. trumasseur

    trumasseur New Member

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    It works and results like this.....
    Univision/Reuters/Zogby Poll Of Likely Hispanic Voters:

    78% support Obama, 13% favor McCain, 8% Undecided
     
  12. JustAsking

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    I love democracy, but the more I observe elections the more I think we should preserve the electoral college. We have the college for the same reason we have Senators and Congressmen. Most of us are not informed enough to directly participate in the lawmaking process.

    Ross Pero proposed an 'electronic democracy' where the entire electorate voted for all the issues that are usually settled by the House and Senate. When you push it to that extreme, you realize how unprepared us normal citizens are to decide on public policy at a national level.

    The founding fathers set up the electoral college because in those days it was a political science "toss up" whether people would ever be equipped to govern themselves directly. So the electoral college is there for the same reason the House and Senate are there.
     
  13. MarkLondon

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    Hmm, on this historic night(?), and only at the beginning of the Wikipedia article, I'm bound to say that it seems like a good idea initially - to divorce the election of the President from the machinations of Congress. However, to my naive mind it seems that it was the advent of party politics that started to screw thing up.

    And what is this that I read about in early elections? The Federalist Party versus the Democratic-Republican party? Were Reps and Dems once in the same party? That would explain a lot.
     
  14. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    Basically, the founding fathers believed in democracy but also wanted to create a buffer of more educated men between the one man/one vote system and the "common" man just in case someone off the rails like, say Ross Perot, got elected. [Sorry, if he has any lingering fans out there] The Electoral College is an antiquated system and one that is under increasing fire.
     
  15. Flashy

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    actually, the republicans used to be the progressive party, it was the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt...it was originally a large portion of the democrats who were opposed to civil rights for african americans during the 60s...there was a schism however, in which the racist, segregationist white democrats (referred to as "Dixiecrats") eventually left the democratic party and joined the republican party, becoming the ones you know today on the far right wing.

    the republicans used to be far more centrist and progressive, but the religious right took over and hijacked the party.

    the democrats used to be far more conservative in southern states, and virtually all the southern governors who supported segregation were democrats.

    The republicans had a very good history up until the late 80s, when the religious right really began to sink its teeth into the party.

    generally republicans pre 1980 had very good working relationships with more conservative democrats, and throughout the 80s, conservative democrats were known as "Reagan Democrats", because they supported much of his agenda in fiscal terms.

    the problem in both parties are the extreme wings.
     
  16. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Note: Electors are pledged to vote for a particular candidate but are NOT bound to do so. Electors may vote for anyone, candidate or not. They could vote for Oprah or Perez Hilton and the vote would be legally binding.

    There are 538 electors which means it is possible for there to be a tie. In that case, the electors retire and assign the presidential election to the House of Representatives who then vote for President. That would mean Obama wins given the current Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

    Not all states have a winner-takes-all-electors system! Nebraska and Maine have a proportional system where electors are distributed by proportional popular votes.

    The electoral system was designed the way it is because it prevents the highly populous states from having disproportional weight and allows citizens, as a state, to have greater weight. This is how Dubya was elected. He lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote. Our voting system gives greater weight to states, not population centers. This is consistent with the seldom-noted fact that the United States is a republic with a democratic system of government.
     
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