Electoral Process


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visuals for unit on the Electoral Process in the United States federal government

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Electoral Process

  1. 1.  Nomination – the naming of those who will seek office (5 ways)  The process of candidate selection is a critically important step in the election process.
  2. 2.  How does the nominating process have a big impact on our right to vote?  Nominating limits our choices in an election.
  3. 3.  One-party constituencies (those areas where one party regularly wins elections).  The nominating process usually is the only point at which there is any real contest for a public office.
  4. 4. Primary election Democrats Republicans General Election
  5. 5.  What is a general election?  Regularly scheduled elections at which voters make the final selection.
  6. 6. Self Announce Petition Direct Primary Caucus Convention
  7. 7.  Self-announcement is the oldest form of the nominating process in American politics  First used in colonial times, found today in small towns and rural areas.
  8. 8.  A person announces they want to run for office.  Who uses this?  Someone who failed to win their party’s nomination.
  9. 9.  A group of like-minded people who meet to select the candidates they will support in an upcoming election.  Originally the caucus was a private meeting consisting of a few influential figures in the community.
  10. 10.  What happened when Political Parties started appearing?  Political parties began to broaden the membership of the caucus.
  11. 11.  The legislative caucus is a meeting of a party’s members in the state or federal Congress – the legislators would choose who would run for office.
  12. 12.  They were practical in their day because of transportation and communication issues.  As democracy spread, why did opposition grow to the caucus?  Critics felt they closed and unrepresentative in nature.
  13. 13.  The caucus is still used to make local nominations (New England) and is open to all members of a party.
  14. 14.  As the caucus method collapsed, the convention system took its place.  Who had the 1st national convention to nominate a presidential candidate?  Anti-Mason Party in 1931
  15. 15.  The process begins in local caucus and works its way up to through the country, state and then the national level.  The convention system began to come under attack in the early 1900s and was to be replaced by another method.
  16. 16.  Party Bosses began to manipulate the process.  The convention system began to come under attack in the early 1900s and was to be replaced by another method.
  17. 17.  A direct primary is an intra-party election to pick that party’s candidate for the general election.  State laws require that the major parties use the primaries to choose their candidates for the Senate, House, governorship, etc. First used in Wisconsin in 1903
  18. 18.  Party nominating election in which ONLY declared party members can vote.  Party membership is established by registration. Found in 27 states
  19. 19.  Party nominating election in which ANY qualified voter can take part. Found in 23 states
  20. 20.  Through 2000, 3 states have used a different version of the open primary called the blanket primary
  21. 21.  All voters receive same ballot and can vote for any party for any office they like.  California’s version was ruled Unconstitutional.
  22. 22.  Those who favor the closed primary argue:  It prevents one party from “raiding” the other’s primary in the hope of nominating a weaker candidate.  Candidates are more responsive to the party and its members.  How does it make voters more thoughtful?  Voters must choose between the parties in order to vote in the primaries
  23. 23.  It compromises the secrecy of the ballot.  It tends to exclude independent voters from the nomination process.
  24. 24.  Against Closed: Compromises secret ballot 2. Tends to exclude independent voters from the nomination process 1.  For Closed: Prevents one party from raiding another party’s primary 2. Makes candidates more responsive to party members 3. Voters make more thoughtful in choosing a party 1.
  25. 25.  Winner needs an absolute majority (more than 50%)  Top 2 vote getters in the 1st primary “Run-Off” or face one another in a 2nd election.
  26. 26.  These are elections in which candidates are not identified by party labels.  Typically, a contender who wins a clear majority runs unopposed in the general election.
  27. 27.  The direct primary was intended to take the nominating function out of the hands of the party organization and give it to the party membership.
  28. 28.  A number of criticisms have been leveled at the direct primary:  Closed vs. open arguments  A tough primary fight can cost a lot of money, thus adding to cost running for office (this keeps well qualified people away)
  29. 29.  What is the ‘divisive effect’ on the party?  A bitter primary can weaken and divide a party for the general election.  Many voters are not well informed on the candidates, so name familiarity is key because it gives a contender an edge.
  30. 30.  Is an election that is held as one part of the process by which presidential candidates are chosen.  Very complex process.
  31. 31.  Nominating by means of petitions signed by a certain number of required qualified voters in the election district.  When is this method used?  Mostly at the local level.
  32. 32.  Democratic government cannot succeed unless elections are free, honest, and accurate.  The lengthy and closely detailed provisions of the election law are meant to protect the integrity of the electoral process.
  33. 33.  Most election law in the US is State law, but the Constitution does give Congress some power over elections:  Set the date of elections.  Must have secret ballots.  Amendments that deal with suffrage
  34. 34.  Why did Congress pass the bill?  Election of 2000  Some of the major provisions of the bill:  Replace lever-operated and punch-card voting devices by 2006  Upgrade administration of elections
  35. 35.  A voter’s eligibility has been challenged…but can vote and the voter’s qualification can be checked or verified later.
  36. 36.  Congress set the date for national elections (Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November).  Explanation of:  Never on a Sunday (Church and state)  1st day of month is often payday (pressure from employer)
  37. 37.  Some states have allowed for early voting in an effort to increase voter turnout and make voting more convenient.
  38. 38.  Voting by those unable to get to their regular polling places on election day.  Designed for: 1. Sick/Ill 2. Disabled 3. Away from home
  39. 39.  This occurs when a strong candidate running for an office at the top of the ballot helps attract voters to other candidates on the party’s ticket.  Reverse Coattail:  Candidate at top of ticket can HURT other party members.
  40. 40.  A precinct is a voting district.  Smallest geographic units for elections.  What are the sizes of precincts?  500 to 1000 qualified voters
  41. 41.  A polling place is the place where the voters who live in a precinct actually vote.  A precinct election board supervises the polling place and voting process in each precinct.
  42. 42.  IDENTIFY some of the responsibilities of the board:  Make sure only qualified voters vote.  Machines work  Count the votes
  43. 43.  One from each party : are allowed at each polling place.  They may challenge any voter they believe is not qualified.  Check to be sure that their own party’s supporters do vote.  Monitor the whole voting process, including the ballot count.
  44. 44.  Define Ballot:  A device used to record a voter’s choices.  Over the history of the United States voting has taken many shapes (voice, paper ballots) and corruption led to a demand for ballot reforms.
  45. 45.  Each State now provides for a secret ballot.  Ballots are cast in such a manner that others cannot know how a person voted.
  46. 46. 1. Printed at public expense 2. Lists names of all candidates 3. Given out only at polls 4. Marked in secret
  47. 47.  Candidates are grouped on this ballot by office they are running for.  Sometimes called the Massachusetts ballot because of its early use (1888) there.
  48. 48.  Lists each party’s candidates in a column under the party’s name.  Good: parties like because it promotes straight-ticket voting  Bad: does not take much thought in the voting process.
  49. 49.  Can help voters prepare for an election.  They are mailed in some states and appear in newspapers in others.
  50. 50.  The ballot in a typical American election is lengthy because it may list so many offices, candidates and ballot measures.  Even the most informed voters had a difficult time marking it intelligently.
  51. 51.  Origin of :  Jacksonian Democracy in the 1830s  More offices meant more democratic the government was
  52. 52.  Critics say it is hard to know the candidates and their qualifications on such a long ballot – thus it is bad for democracy.
  53. 53.  Well over half the votes now cast in national elections are cast on some type of voting machine or electronic voting device.  Describe the lever-operated machines:  Pull one lever to open (unlock ballot) and another to close or actually vote
  54. 54.  Electronic data processing (EDP) techniques were first applied to the voting process in the 1960s.  Punch-card ballots (counted by computers) were the most widely used.
  55. 55.  What was the major problem of the punch-card ballots?  If voter failed to make clean punch, the result was a ‘hanging chad” that would not count as a vote.
  56. 56.  The use of punch- card ballots ended by 2006, due to the Help Americans Vote Act of 2002 after the 2000 presidential election mess.
  57. 57.  What are most states now turning to for more efficient EDPbased voting systems?  Touch screens or scantron like voting.
  58. 58.  A number of states conduct some elections by mail.  Voters receive a ballot in the mail, make their choices, and then mail the ballot back to election officials.  Which state today conducts all of its elections by mail?  OREGON
  59. 59.  Critics of:  Supporters of: 1. Threatens 1. Just as fraud secret ballot 2. Threat of fraud from stolen ballots proof as any other method 2. Increases voter turnout 3. Saves money
  60. 60.  Casting ballots via the Internet has attracted considerable attention in the past few years.  There have been some votes cast online in the past several years.
  61. 61.  Critics of: 1. Digital disaster 2. Hacker fraud 3. Voter secrecy 4. Digital Divide  Supporters of: 1. Increase voter participation 2. Increase turnout 3. Reduce costs of voting
  62. 62.  The presidential election eats up by the largest share of campaign dollars - $2 billion for primaries and general election in 2012.  The cost of congressional campaigns also continues to climb each cycle.
  63. 63.  Where is all this money being spent?  Radio and TV  Campaign Staff  Polls, mailings, web  Office space  Travel
  64. 64.  Private and Public Sources.  Private givers have always been the major sources of campaign funds and they come in various shapes and sizes:
  65. 65.  Individuals both small and wealthy  What is a PAC?  Political Action Committee  Political Arms of special interest groups
  66. 66.  Temporary organizations - groups formed for the immediate purpose of a campaign, including fund raising.  How do parties attempt to raise money?  Dinners, receptions and other fund raisers.
  67. 67.  Campaign donations are a form of political participation and those who make them do so for several reasons:
  68. 68.  They believe in a party or candidate.  Want something in return, maybe access to the government.  Some big donors want appointments to public office, while others want to keep the ones they have.  EXPLAIN the social recognition reason:  Dinner at White House, meeting with Cabinet official, etc.
  69. 69.  Congress first began to regulate the use of money in federal election in 1907 and since then, Congress has passed major campaign finance laws.  Congress does not have the power to regulate state and local elections – that is up to each individual state.
  70. 70.  The Federal Election Commission (FEC) administers all federal law dealing with campaign finance.
  71. 71.  It was set up in 1974 (after Watergate) and it an independent agency with 6 members.  Why is it hard for the FEC to do an effective job?  It is both underfunded and understaffed.
  72. 72.  Disclosure requirements are intended to spotlight the place of money in federal campaigns.  What types of contributions are prohibited?  Cash over $100, foreign contributions, in someone else’s name
  73. 73.  Made through a single campaign committee, which can only spend that candidate’s campaign money.
  74. 74.  All contributions and spending must be closely accounted for.  What about the disclosure of contributions or loans?  Any over $200 must be identified by source and date
  75. 75.  There are limits on how much an individual can give to a federal candidate.  $2600 per election, per candidate
  76. 76.  Neither corporations nor labor unions can contribute to any candidate running for a federal office – but their PACs can and do.  A PACs clout comes from their ability to raise campaign money and their willingness to give it to their “friends” who run for public office.
  77. 77.  The Supreme Court decision on Buckley v. Valeo (1976) was key to the issue of spending limits.  Why did the Supreme Court strike down spending limits?  Free Speech issue with spending money.
  78. 78.  The 1971 Revenue Act allowed for everyone who files a federal income tax return to ‘check off’ $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.  The monies collected are used every four years to finance the following:
  79. 79.  Preconvention Campaigns  National Conventions  Presidential Campaigns – unless candidate turns down $$$