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Thread: American Election Primer:Chapter 2 And You Thought it Couldnt Get Worse!

  1. #1

    American Election Primer:Chapter 2 And You Thought it Couldnt Get Worse!

    Seeing so much interest in the first Primer, I thought I would pen a second on the Election process. I do want to thank all the participants in the previous thread for their mature and non-vitriolic commentary. However, after reading this section please feel free to say WTF because, quite honestly, we American voters often say the same.

    So to begin, and somewhat rehash the first thread. In the United States we have National Elections every 2 years. Every 2 years, each and every member of the House of Representatives must stand for election (there are 435 Representatives). They serve 2 year terms. At the same time, 1/3 of the Senate (Senators serve 6 year terms) stands for elections. There are no term limits for these politicians, they can be elected and re-elected until they die. Some have actually done that, but that is for another discussion. The Constitution sets out the requirements to hold office (age, citizenship, etc..) but one thing that sets them apart from many other countries is that they must reside in the district they represent. Each one of these Senators or Representatives is elected via direct election (voters vote directly for the candidate).

    Every 4 years, is a Presidential election that coincides with the scheduled National election. This election is NOT A DIRECT VOTE. Instead, each state goes to the polls and votes. In 48 states, and the District of Columbia (not a state, but rather a neutral ground where the National Capital Washington sits) there is a Winner Take All election of Electoral College Electors. In the states of Maine and Nebraska, there is a Proportional election of Electors.

    If you havent already gone to sleep from boredom, you might ask, what is an Elector?. The United States is a Democratic Republic, not a pure Democracy. We elect representatives to conduct political business on our behalf, but also to ensure that Majority rule does not overrule the rights of the minority. We also have a similar system for the election of our President.

    Within each state are a group of party faithful called Electors. They may not hold a Federal position, either appointed or elected, in any way. In other words, they are to be loyal to the STATE (remember, we are the United STATEs), not the FEDERAL government. Each of these is expected to swear loyalty to the party, although it is not unknown for them to renounce their sworn oath (there is actually a term for these faithless and depending on the state they can be punished, have their vote negated, or be subject to party censure). There are a total of 538 electors 1 representing each Congressional District (435), 1 for each Senator (100) and 3 for Washington DC. A majority (270) are required to win the presidency.

    That is not quite true there are actually 538 DEMOCRAT ELECTORS, 538 REPUBLICAN, and an unknown number of OTHER (Representing others parties should those groups win a state which happens perhaps once every 100 years or so). Within each state, those electors go as the state goes (with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, which we will explain later). So, should Candidate A(Repub) win Texas, all 38 ELECTORS for that state would be REPUBLICAN, and the Texas Democrat Electors would go home. Should Candidate B (Dem) win California, all 55 ELECTORS for that state would be DEMOCRAT and the California Republican Electors would retire.

    Maine and Nebraska split their ELECTORS, with 2 (representing each Senator) going to the OVERALL WINNER of the State, and the ELECTOR for each congressional district going to whichever candidate was the winner in that district. So, using Nebraska as an example, they are overall a Conservative (Republican) State, with a more Liberal (Democrat) pocket near Omaha. Should the Democrat candidate carry only the Omaha district, then 1 of Nebraskas 5 Electors would be a Democrat and 4 would be Republican.


    Each state holds their election (always the Tuesday following the first Monday in Nov of even numbered years) and the popular votes are tallied. The Secretary of State for each state and DC seeks to Certify the vote as soon as possible. This is when most people assume the President-elect has been named WRONG.

    When all recounts or close counts are completed and a winner is chosen the Secretary of State will then prepare 7 identical certificates, each bearing the State Seal, The Signature of the Governor, the Vote Tally for each candidate, the names of the pledged electors, and the total votes received. For the two states that are slightly different, they will also include the vote tally, by candidate, by congressional district. It is up to the state to resolve any voting discrepancies, unless they change the standard of the ballot after the ballots are cast (What happened in the 2000 election between Gore and Bush in the state of FL. in a nutshell, the Democrats tried to change the way non-standardized votes were discarded or tallied after the election was over).

    One certificate goes to the US Senate President, 2 go to the US archives, 2 are retained by the Secretary of State, and 1 goes to the Presiding Judge of the US District Court where the State Capitol is located. None of these are opened until later.

    On the Monday after the 2nd Wednesday in December (more than a month after the general election) the Electors gather in the state capitol of each state and vote, TWICE. The first vote is for President. At this time an Elector may chose to prove faithless and disavow their pledge and either abstain or vote contrary to pledge. Should this happen the state each have their own mechanism to handle this. Some will negate that vote, some will charge the Elector with a crime, while others will leave discipline to the state party to which the elector belongs. This does happen and I cant find a single instance where it changes the outcome. It seems to simply be a way to protest. I bring this up because we could conceivably see either a staunch Sanders Democrat refuse to vote for Hillary, or a staunch establishment Republican refuse to vote for Trump.

    After the votes are cast for President the winner is officially declared. Should no candidate get a majority of electoral votes, the election is cast into the House of Representatives, and where each state gets one vote. After the president is decided, the same Electors vote again for Vice-President. Should either candidate be unable to get a majority of votes, the vote is cast into the Senate for resolution.

    Having been raised in this system, it does not seem that confusing. However, from the outside looking in, this probably makes as much sense as eating soup with chopsticks. Dont. worry, we get just as confused watching Parliamentary elections and seeing what strange bedfellows join together to make a government and name ministers and such.

  2. #2
    Electors are not bound in all states to vote for the winner of the majority of votes, nor even for the party which selected them. I can think of one such case where, in 1972, Roger McBride, a Republican elector from the Commonwealth of Virginia, was disgusted with Nixon, and cast his electoral vote for the Libertarian Party candidate. He had a legal right to do so. The election was a total landslide for Nixon, so it made no difference.

    So it is conceivable that a Democrat elector might throw a close election to Trump, or a Trump-hating Republican might throw it to Hillary. That would ignite some fireworks!

  3. #3
    You just had to...

    ...the whole electoral college thing makes my ears bleed just thinking about it.

    Now: for your next (excellent) summary, can you explain the Fillibuster?

  4. #4
    Makes our Byzantine firearms laws look simple!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Mungo View Post
    You just had to...

    ...the whole electoral college thing makes my ears bleed just thinking about it.

    Now: for your next (excellent) summary, can you explain the Fillibuster?
    Not yet - I need to go fishing. It takes some "finding of ones center, in the woods, water, or field" before I am ready to delve into explaining politics.

    But I do promise I will explain filibusters sometime soon.

  6. #6
    Is there an exam at the end of this?

  7. #7
    You have John Adams to blame...
    A young man who isn't a socialist hasn't got a heart; an old man who is a socialist hasn't got a head.
    I have summat for sale; here's the M̶i̶d̶w̶a̶y̶ Brownells UK price... effin jokers.
    "The .30-'06 is unstable at close range" - Ahahahahhahh!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Mungo View Post
    You just had to...

    ...the whole electoral college thing makes my ears bleed just thinking about it.

    Now: for your next (excellent) summary, can you explain the Fillibuster?
    Are fillibusters/fillibustering different in the USA than here in UK?
    Blaser K95 Luxus Kipplaufbchse .25-06Rem. Zeiss 8x56, 110gn Nosler Accubond = Game Over!

  9. #9
    What happens in Hawaii and Alaska? You only mention 48 states

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by shakey jake View Post
    What happens in Hawaii and Alaska? You only mention 48 states
    The 2 outlier states are Maine and Nebraska. All the other states (including AK and HI) provide their electoral votes as "Winner Takes All".

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