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Electing our leaders: How election systems differ around the world
Free and fair elections are the foundation of democratic societies. But not all elections are the same. There are two main types of election systems: Single member, simple plurality and proportional representation.
The United States uses the single member, simple plurality system, OR SMSP, along with 62 other countries around the world for their legislatures.
How does it work? A single representative is chosen after receiving a majority of votes. Whether it be a statewide election, a congressional district, or city. So what are the advantages of SMSP systems? For that lets bring in Straight Arrow News Contributor Professor Daron Shaw.
Shaw says: There’s also greater accountability of representatives to the members. It’s not disbursed over 10 members representing a single district, it’s a particular individual. And because you have to win a plurality in order to get any representation it encourages aggregative, coalitional politics at the electoral level. Before the election Because parties that don’t have a chance of winning a plurality have incentives to combine with larger parties that are closer to their preferred policy preferences.
Presidential elections are run differently – using the electoral college.
Shaw says: What you have in the United States is a system in which each state has its own election and the plurality of the vote decides who gets the electors from that state.
A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the presidency, out of the possible 538. The number of electoral votes a state has is equal to the number of representatives in the US congress plus their two US senators. Wyoming has one House seat plus two Senators so three electoral votes. After the 2020 census – California has two senators and 52 house seats totalling 54 electoral votes.
Shaw says: In this case what we have is instead of a single member simple plurality, we have a multi-member simple plurality.
The other system is proportional representation.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say a city council has ten open seats. Multiple political parties could have ten of their members run in the same election. If party one receives 50 percent of the vote, they get 5 representatives on the council, Party two receives 20 percent of the vote and therefore two seats. Party three, thirty percent and 3 seats.
Shaw says: “So in other words there’s a proportional number of seats based on votes.”
It’s pretty popular. 96 countries use it, including 40 in Europe.
Shaw says: “Proponents say it increases fairness because there is this closer relationship between seats to votes. It encourages minor parties because you can actually get represented with a smaller share of the vote. It tends to be more likely that you’ll get coalitions between and amongst political parties when it comes to governing because parties have to come together after the election to govern, and you avoid the problems associated with gerrymandering that is drawing districts that over represents certain groups compared to others.”
To learn more about about voting and elections in America, including voter ID and convenience voting keep watching our series on youtube or straightarrownews.com
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Electing our leaders: How election systems differ around the world
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How voter registration works across the United States
When U.S. citizens want to exercise their right to vote in America, they must first register. But the rules and requirements vary from state to state. “It’s important to remember that we do not register nationally in the United States. Rather we register at the level of the county,” Professor Daron Shaw said. Why are…
Same day, automatic registrations simplify voting in America
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In addition to the facts, we believe it’s vital to hear perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. We hope these different voices will help you reach your own conclusions.
The opinions published in this section are solely those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of Straight Arrow News.
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