作者：Emma Martin, a student who moved to China in 2011, fell in love with the country almost immediately and hasn't wanted to leave since! She's currently studying Political Science and Global China Studies at Shanghai New York University (上海纽约大学). Emma has been tutoring English of all ages for 4 years now, with a special interest in higher level English. Two of her passions include blogging and freelance jounalism!
If you’ve read the previous article “U.S. Political System in a Nutshell,” you know how important democracy is in the United States. While some countries ruled by a dictator do not have elections, the U.S. is a democracy and most certainly holds elections. Elections are extremely significant in that it gives citizens their constitutional right to vote for leaders to represent them on a local, state, and federal level.
如果你读过前一篇文章“美国政治制度一览”（ U.S. Political System in a Nutshell,），你就会知道民主在美国是多么重要。虽然一些专制统治的国家没有选举，但美国作为民主国家，肯定会举行选举。选举具有极其重要的意义，因为它赋予公民在地方、州和联邦各级选举他们的领导人的宪法权利。
People who are able to elect leaders are called voters. No matter one’s race, ethnicity, sex, or age (anyone over 18), one can vote as it is one’s constitutional right. With that being said, some states have different laws that prohibit some people from voting, for example, felons or convicted criminals.
● State and Local Level
On a state and local level, people cast their vote directly for the candidate they wish to represent them. On a state level, one may cast one’s vote to elect an upcoming governor, while on a local level for example, one may cast one’s vote to elect a mayor or other local officials. People go to the polls, fill out their ballot for the person or people they wish to vote for to represent them, and the total amount of votes are tallied up at the end to decide who wins.
● Congress: House of Representatives and Senate
Congress is divided into the House and the Senate and is in charge of making the laws. Therefore, Congress has a big responsibility to ensure laws represent the American people. Like at a state and local level, citizens directly vote their congressional leaders. Americans elect one third of Senate leaders and all 435 members of the House during midterm elections, or the halfway mark until the upcoming Presidential election. House of Representatives hold two year terms while Senators hold six year terms.
A current Senator I’m keeping up with is Cory booker, a Democratic Senator from New Jersey. As the first African American Senator representing the state of New Jersey, Booker often sticks up for minorities and their rights. He is a hot topic in the U.S. news at the moment due to his outspoken opinion on Donald Trump’s nominee for the newly appointed, extremely conservative Supreme Court leader, Brett Kavanaugh.
● Federal Level
Unlike voting for one’s mayor or next Senator directly, voters indirectly vote for the President and Vice President. The President is elected through a system called the Electoral College. So while a Senator may get the popular vote and win, the President may not always get the popular vote and win (ex: the case with the 2016 election). The U.S.’s founding fathers first implemented the Electoral College in 1789 to prevent a state with a bigger population to continuously pick leaders. Nevertheless, the founding fathers were concerned that ordinary people may not have had the capacity to make intelligent decisions regarding who to elect.
The process of the Electoral College begins when citizens go to the polls and fill out their ballot for the Presidential candidate and whichever candidate has the most votes wins a certain amount of electoral votes. The amount of electoral votes the Presidential candidate gets depends on the state. Some states with a larger population such as California, New York, and Texas get a larger number of electoral votes while states with a smaller population such as many midwestern states get a smaller number of electoral votes. For example, in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton received the majority of votes from California, obtaining 55 electoral votes. Donald Trump on the other hand, won the majority of electoral votes in Texas and received 38 votes, and also won almost all midwestern states. Whatever candidate reaches 270 total electoral votes wins the Presidential election. Therefore, in the end, Trump received more electoral votes and won regardless of Clinton’s win of the popular vote.
Continue to read more articles in my U.S. politics series to find out who I voted for in the 2016 election and why!