Elections . Essential Questions: Why do we have elections? Is our election system perfect? Or are there reforms to make the process more democratic? . Lesson Objective: To understand the Presidential election process in the United States. Key Terms. Prospective judgment
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Elections Essential Questions: Why do we have elections? Is our election system perfect? Or are there reforms to make the process more democratic? Lesson Objective: To understand the Presidential election process in the United States
Key Terms • Prospective judgment • Retrospective judgment • Primaries • Caucus • General Election • Electoral College
Elections • Election provide for more responsive government • Provide for a peaceful transfer of power • Reason to Vote • Prospective judgment • Voting for the belief in the candidate or party • Retrospective judgment • Voting against the incumbent party or politician • Which kind of win gives a politician a mandate?
Types of Elections • Primary Election • Within the party to decide the candidate to run in the General election • Closed Primaries • Only party members may vote • Open Primaries • Anyone may vote; regardless of party affiliation • Blanket Primaries • May vote in either primary- but not both • What are the benefits and disadvantages of these different election rules?
Presidential Elections • Actually three sets of 50 state-wide elections • First two are party primary elections • Voters are electing delegates to the Party’s nominating convention • Winner-take-all and Proportional (normally need to meet a minimum threshold) • Primaries vs. Caucuses • Primaries are seen as more democratic – all you do is vote • Caucus- people must invest hours discussing the issues – higher quality participation • What are the Pros and Cons of each? • General Election- Tuesday after the first Monday in November – every 4 years
Cons Pros Cons Pros
The Party Convention • Have become very scripted and have few surprises • Growing importance and attention of the media have given national party organization more power than the states • Delegates are committed and selected through state party conventions • Unrepresentative of general population- Why? • Media’s role • Convention are primetime television now • Inter-party debate can look divisive- leads to how scripted it is • Also makes it boring leading to less coverage
Electoral College • Ultimately decides the President • Compromise between popular election and having Congress elect the President • Senate + Congressional Representation= Electoral College Votes • Changes with every census • 535 votes- Majority of 270 wins • If no one wins majority- Congress Votes • Popular Vote winner doesn’t always win ex. 2000 election- Gore won popular vote- Bush won election • Before 12th Amendment President and Vice President were same ballot- ex. 1800 election
Reform • The idea of the electoral college strikes many as un-democratic • Reform ideas • Throw out Electoral College • Unlikely because it would require an Amendment • Congressional District • Votes go to each district and +2 for winning the state • Nebraska and Maine do this • Requires just a change in state laws • Get rid of actual electors • Solves faithless electors problem • Its not really a problem • Doesn’t solve any real problems • What new problems could these reforms create?
Voting Patterns • Party Realignment • Large group of voters changes their political party • ex. Southern Strategy • New voters start to come out to vote • ex. Conservative Movement / Moral Majority • Rare occurrences and take place in short period of time • Secular Realignment • Gradual changes in party alignment • Harder to find now with fluidity of electorate – more independents
Low Voter Turnout • U.S. Voter participation is lowest in Industrialized world – for many reasons • Too Busy • Difficulty of Registration • Difficulty of Absentee Voting • Number of Elections • Voter Attitudes • Weak Political Parties • Is low voter turnout a problem? • How can we improve the process? Should we improve the process?