American Electoral Systems

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  • Electoral Systems of the USA
    • Electoral Process
      • 1. Self Nomination
        • candidates will nominate themselves up to 2 years before the election
        • may form an exploratory committeeto see if they have what it takes
      • 2. Campaign to Win Party Nomination
        • occurs in the spring before the general eleciton
        • parties will hold primaries and caucuses to choose their candidate
          • the first state to hold a caucus is Iowa (Feb 1st 2016)
          • the first state to hold a primary is New Hampshire(9th Feb 2016)
        • Super Tuesday
          • the first tuesday in March where the majority of states hold their primaries and caucuses (1st March 2016)
          • front loading - the increasing tendency of states to hold their primaries and caucuses earlier in the season.
            • this increases state influence as the earlier the primary or caucus the earlier the nomination is secured.
      • 3. National Nominating Convention
        • Held in the summer before the election
        • challenging party goes first followed by the incumbent (2016: Rep 18th-21st July. Dem 25th-28th July)
      • 4. Presidential Campaign Trial
        • occurs from September to November before the election
        • includes political aids, televised debates, travelling, campaigning and stumping
      • 5. General Election
        • takes place on the tuesday after the first monday in November (8th November 2016)
        • the electoral college is used to determine the winner
      • 6. Electoral College
        • when voters cast their ballot they are voting for a party's state electors
          • these people cast their vote for the president - known as Electoral Votes
        • # of senates +  # of representative= # of electoral votes
          • need 270 EC votes to win
        • faithless electors
          • a member of the electoral college who does not vote for who they are pledged to vote for
          • in 2016 there were 7 faithless electors
          • in 2000, Barbara Lett-Simmons abstained from voting Dem in Washington DC
          • only ever been 167 faithless electors in the USA
            • however, they have never affected the election outcome
          • in some states it is a criminal offence to be. faithless electors
        • occurs 41 days after the election
        • What happens if there is a tie?
          • there will be a vote in the House of Reps where each state gets one extra vote.
      • 7. inauguration
        • takes place on January 20th, unless the winner is undecided or it falls on a sunday
        • president is sworn in by the Lord Chief Justice
    • Direct Democracy
      • Initiatives
        • initiatives are bottom up so citizens can initiate their own state referendums
        • the number of signatures required on a petition ranges.
          • California requires 10% of the turnout of the previous gubernatorial election to sign the petition in order for an initiative to take place
        • if the petition gains the required number of signatures within 180 days then it will be placed on a ballot
        • Examples from California
          • Proposition 8 - abolition of gay marriage (2008)
          • Proposition 187 - illegal immigrants (1994)
          • proposition 12 - abolition of the death penalty (2012)
      • Referendums
        • there has never been a national referendum in the UK
        • Delaware prohibits referendums and is the only state that does not require popular approval of state constitutional changes
        • all states (except Delaware) require a referendum when considering state constitutional changes
      • James Madison was concerned that direct democracy was a violation of minorities and encourages mobocracy
      • Recall Provisions
        • allow for recall by popular vote following a petition
        • only ever been 2 governors recalled
          • California - Gray Davis (2003) and Wisconsin Scott Walker (2012)
    • Election Funding
      • PACS
        • an organisation whose purpose is to raise funds to campaign for candidates races to office
        • e.g. NRA's PAC is the Political Victory Fund
        • often the financial arms of pressure groups
      • Federal Election Campaign Act 1974
        • placed limits on election spending
        • Buckley v Valeo 1976
          • overruled the rule that limits individual and candidate donations and spending
      • Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act 2002
        • banned soft money, banned ads by FEC exempt groups within 60 days of a general election and 30 days of a primary or caucus
      • 527 Groups
        • FEC exempt groups who are unregulated so they do not expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate or party
        • Swift Vets and prisoners of war for truth were fined in 2006 for advocating election defeat
      • Citizens United v FEC 2010
        • overturned limits on advertising for FEC exempt groups

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