Elections and Voting

Elections in the United States are held at the federal, state, and local level. At the Federal level, the President elected indirectly by the people of all the states through an Electoral College. These electors almost always vote with the popular vote of their state. All members of Congress are directly elected by their constituents in their state. At the state level, there are many elected officials. But each state has a Governor and a legislature that are elected by a popular vote. At the local level, in counties, cities, towns, townships and villages, officials are also elected by a popular vote. A study in 2012 estimated that there were 519,682 elected officials in the United States.

Elections in the United States are held largely between two parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Third parties are allowed, and do run, but because third parties often sway votes from one of the two major parties, they can often influence an election negatively for their side of the issue, and grant the presidency to a candidate with a plurality, but not the majority, of the votes.

The most common method of election in the United States is the first-past-the-post system, where the highest polling candidate wins the election, regardless of how many votes the next highest candidate gets. Some cities use a two-round system, where if no candidate receives a required number of votes, then a runoff between the two candidates with the most votes is implemented. .

The eligibility to vote is regulated at the state level. According to the constitution, suffrage will not be denied based on race or color, sex, or age for citizens eighteen years or older. Beyond these requirements, state legislatures regulate voter eligibility. Some states disallow felons from voting for either a fixed time or permanently. Roughly 5.3 million Americans are ineligible to vote due to felony convictions.

The United States has federal elections every two years, Presidential elections every four years, and local elections at many times during the year. Because the elections of congressmen and senators happen every two years, they occur midway through a presidential term, and are often referred to as midterm elections.