The Electoral Process
The Nominating Process
Critical First Step • 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.
Importance Of • How does the nominating process have a big impact on our right to vote? • Nominating limits our choices in an election.
Importance of • 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.
Have to win (2) elections to win an office in most elections: Primary election Democrats Republicans General Election
General Election • What is a general election? • Regularly scheduled elections at which voters make the final selection.
Self Announcement • 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.
Self Announcement • A person announces they want to run for office. • Who uses this? • Someone who failed to win their party’s nomination.
Caucus • 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.
Caucus • What happened when Political Parties started appearing? • Political parties began to broaden the membership of the caucus.
Caucus • 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.
Caucus • 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.
Caucus • The caucus is still used to make local nominations (New England) and is open to all members of a party.
The Convention • 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
Convention • 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.
Convention • 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.
Direct Primary • 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
Closed Primary • Party nominating election in which ONLYdeclared party members can vote. • Party membership is established by registration. Found in 27 states
Open Primary • Party nominating election in which ANY qualified voter can take part. Found in 23 states
Open Primary • Through 2000, 3 states have used a different version of the open primary called the blanket primary
Blanket Primary • All voters receive same ballot and can vote for any party for any office they like. • California’s version was ruled Unconstitutional.
Closed v Open • 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
Critics of Closed • It compromises the secrecy of the ballot. • It tends to exclude independent voters from the nomination process.
Closed v Open • Against Closed: • Compromises secret ballot • Tends to exclude independent voters from the nomination process • For Closed: • Prevents one party from raiding another party’s primary • Makes candidates more responsive to party members • Voters make more thoughtful in choosing a party
Run-off Primary • 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.
Non-Partisan Primary • 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.
Evaluation of Primary • 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.
Evaluation of Primary • 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)
Evaluation of Primary • 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.
Presidential Primary • Is an election that is held as one part of the process by which presidential candidates are chosen. • Very complex process.
Petition • 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.
Administration • 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.
Federal Control • 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
Help America Vote Act • 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
Provisional Voting • A voter’s eligibility has been challenged…but can vote and the voter’s qualification can be checked or verified later.
Election Day • 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)
Early Voting • Some states have allowed for early voting in an effort to increase voter turnout and make voting more convenient.
Absentee Ballot • Voting by those unable to get to their regular polling places on election day. • Designed for: • Sick/Ill • Disabled • Away from home
Coattail Effect • 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.
Precinct • A precinct is a voting district. • Smallest geographic units for elections. • What are the sizes of precincts? • 500 to 1000 qualified voters
Polling Place • 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.
Election Board • IDENTIFY some of the responsibilities of the board: • Make sure only qualified voters vote. • Machines work • Count the votes
Poll Watchers • 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.
Ballot • 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.
Secret Ballot • Each State now provides for a secret ballot. • Ballots are cast in such a manner that others cannot know how a person voted.
Australian Ballot • Printed at public expense • Lists names of all candidates • Given out only at polls • Marked in secret
Office Group Ballot • Candidates are grouped on this ballot by office they are running for. • Sometimes called the Massachusetts ballot because of its early use (1888) there.