Elections and Voting - REVISION NOTES


Elections and Voting

Presidential Elections


>> Election of the leader of the world’s only superpower.

>> More than just a year-long event – voters given a say as who they want to see as the parties’ candidates.

>> Issues are raised–

Such as about democracy, campaign finance and the role of the media.

                Also, an electoral system from 200 years ago, as an indirect election now become direct.

                And, voting behaviour, criticism of who votes for who.

When presidential elections occur…

>> Fixed term election that takes place every 4 years. They have done since 1788.

>> If a President dies (e.g. JFK in 1963), the vice-president takes over for the remainder of the term.

>> This is laid down in Article II of the Constitution.

>> Elections are held on the Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November (2nd-8th)

6 Stages of a Presidential Election



Date Occurs

1 > Invisible Primary

>> Announcing candidacy.

>> Fund-raising.

>> Organisation.

>> Intra-party TV debates.

Calendar year before election

2 > Primaries and Caucuses

>> Gain support.

>> Picking delegates to attend National Party convention.

January-early June

3 > Choosing the VP candidate

>> Presidential candidate announces running partner.

Days/weeks before convention (July/August)

4 > National Party Convention

>> Confirm candidates.

>> Acceptance speech.

>> Party platform.

August-early September (3-4 days long)

5 > General Election campaign

>> Campaigns between the various parties.

September-first week of November

6 > Election Day/Electoral College

>> Voters go to the polls.

>> Electoral College votes go the candidates (from states).

>> Winner is selected.

Tuesday after the first Monday in November

Requirements for a Presidential Candidate

Constitutional Requirements: (a MUST)

>> At least 35 years old – youngest President was Theodore Roosevelt who was just 42 (was VP but became POTUS after William McKinley’s assassination. Youngest elected President was JFK who was 43 years old.

>> Natural-born citizen (born in USA)

>> They must have lived in the US for at least 14 years.

In 1951, the Constitution amended to limit the President to 2 terms in office – first President to be affected by it was Dwight Eisenhower in 1960.

Extra Constitutional Requirements: (HELPS)

>> Political experience –  to make a candidate be taken seriously. Politicians best come from being either a: vice-president, state governor or senator. In the last 12 elections leading up to 2012, 9 were senators, six were vice-presidents, and six were governors. 2008, Hilary served 8 years as first lady, 7 in the Senate, and was defeated by Obama for the nomination, who had 3 years in the Senate when election year started.

>> Major party endorsement – must be either Republican or Democrat to be taken seriously. Ross Perot (1992 and 1996) stood as an independent candidate, and although getting a percentage of the vote, being an independent candidate does not lead to the Presidency.

>> Personal characteristics – typically white males. 2008 – between a white lady, or a black man


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