by Philip Kotler
The Republican Party started out with 16 candidates and are now down to two highly unattractive candidates. The Republican Party is doing its best to block them so that the party could put forth a reasonable candidate. How has it come to this? In this article, I will comment on five specific issues in this crazy election period that badly need reform.
The five issues are:
1. Our elections go on too long
2. Easier voter registration and easier voting is needed
3. Caucus voting should be replaced by primary voting
4. Superdelegates distort the popular vote
5. Winner-take-all systems distort the popular vote
1. Our elections go on too long
Jeb Bush declared his intention to run for President back in 2013 and others shortly followed. Given that the election would take place on November 8, 2016, these candidates would be running for over 3 ½ years (approximately 1300 days) for this office. It seems that such a long election period is designed not to learn about the candidates' beliefs and values but to see which have sufficient physical and mental stamina. Each candidate will dedicate most of his or her time, money and energy for 3 ½ years to speak to crowds and to raise money. Although this is a good way to test their physical and mental stamina, it is not fair to the candidates nor do the nation for the election period to run so long.
The candidates have to map out for each state which cities and towns they will speak in before that state runs its caucus or primary. With 50 states and assuming that a candidate will speak in an average of six cities in each state, this adds up to 300 speeches but many more given numerous radio and TV interviews. The news coverage will make clear in the first 10 of these 300 speeches where that candidate stands on most issues.
The nation suffers too. So much of the news cycle focuses on these Presidential candidates that most other worthy news gets uncovered. The public hears much less about events in foreign countries and much less about domestic crime, medical issues, educational issues, and other issues happening in their own country.
One of the contributing problems is the very long period between the first primary state election and the last ones. The Republican candidates are first tested in Iowa (Feb 1) and then New Hampshire (Feb 9). South Carolina (Feb20) and Nevada (Feb 23) follow. Then finally Super Tuesday shows up with ten states show up on March 1 (Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. This string of single states and sometimes multiple states continues until the last vote takes place on June 24 in the District of Columbia.
This means that the State elections run almost five months. Ideally all of the states should vote on the same day. Or at least we need more bunching, more Super Tuesdays. If we could have 5 Super Tuesdays over a 5 Super Tuesdays with 10 states voting in each Super Tuesday, the winner will be known in approximately 5 weeks instead of 5 months.
If Britain can run its election period in 30 days, why can't we collapse our election period into a shorter time frame. This will reduce the huge cost of our elections and the great distractions from whatever else is happening in the world.
2. Easier Voter Registration and Easier Voting is Needed
Congress passed the Voters Rights Act in 1964. Ever since its passage, the Republicans have taken steps to make it harder for people to vote, not easier. Many states now require voters to show a car registration or an official government document to be entitled to vote. Just showing that they receive mail at a particular address is not enough. Poor voters, in particular, have to find time to go to a government office to get this proof of citizenship. In addition, the same states are trying to reduce the number of polling places and even the hours of polling. The result is longer lines with more people giving up because they are taking time off work.
Even voter registration could be improved. When students reach 17 years of age, they would be notified to pre-register so that they could vote when they reach 18 years of age. Another proposal is that when young people apply for a driver license, they should automatically receive voter registration at the same time. All of this would definitely lead to more voters voting every two years.
Why is the Republican Party pursuing this strategy? They realize that they would normally attract fewer voters than the Democratic Party and they know that poorer voters would vote Democratic. On the pretense of large scale voter fraud (lacking all evidence), the Republicans argue for their measures. But surely they are infringing on the idea of "one citizen, one vote."
Now that we live in a digital world where information can be sent and received instantly, why do we still use a voting process requiring citizens to take time off from work and travel to a polling center, to wait in long lines to be registered and to be given a form to take into a private voting booth to click off their favorite candidates, return the form and then leave the polling center.
Let citizens vote whenever and wherever they want. They could ask for an early ballot and mail it in. Today 27 states and Washington, D.C. allow voters to Vote by Mail if they prefer. Every requesting voter is sent their ballot in the mail several weeks before the election to fill in and send back. Or the ballot may come to their email address and they send it in. Why, in a digital world, should voting be limited to a certain time and place?
3. Caucus Voting Should be Replaced by Primary Voting
Caucus voting involves party members showing up in a few cities in the State, talking with each other and then sorting themselves into voting groups favoring the different candidates. Party headquarters receives information on how many votes went to each candidate. The problem with this system is that it takes time to get to the caucus polling places and particularly that the party members who show up turn out to be the more extreme members of the party. They often don't represent the central attitudes of most party members. The result is that more extreme candidates are favored by the caucus system.
Primaries voting consist of setting up many more polling places and persons can come, go into a voting booth, vote and leave. This takes up much less time. Or they can mail in ballots ahead of time without having to go to a polling place. I would argue that primary voting give a more representative picture of the attitudes of most voters than caucus voting.
4. Superdelegates Distort the Popular Vote
In the American election system, the votes for candidates are turned into votes for delegates to the Electoral College. These delegates show up at the Party's National Convention to vote for the candidate they represent, at least on the first ballot. If no one secures the Party's nomination on the first ballot, some or all of the delegates are free to choose other candidates in order to finally put together enough votes for one candidate.
In the early 1980s, the Democrats introduced a system of "superdelegates," delegates who were free to vote for whoever they want on the first ballot. They could disregard the decisions of the voters of their State. This allowed the Democratic party to have some control over who gets the final nomination. These Democratic Party superdelegates include well-known party leaders, sitting Democratic governors and all Democratic members of the House and Senate. Additional superdelegates are chosen during the primary season.
The vote of one superdelegate at the Democratic National Convention could be equivalent to roughly 10,000 votes from ordinary Americans. There are today 712 superdelegates out of a total of the 4,763, or 15% help determine the Democratic nominee. "Superdelegates" are clearly a departure from the principle of "one citizen, one vote."
Hillary Clinton won a higher proportion of the popular vote than Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary race, but because Obama secured a lion's share of superdelegate support, he ended up winning the candidacy and subsequently the White House. The writer Zack Boehm observed: "It seems intellectually dishonest to call that true democracy, or even representative democracy." Superdelegates represent a step backward toward the determination of the nominee in the smoke-filled rooms of past elections.
Do the Republicans have superdelegates? Yes, technically. However, Republican superdelegates have less power and autonomy than Democratic Party superdelegates. Republican superdelegates are only 7 percent of the total number of Republican delegates. Superdelegates consist of three members of each state's national party. Republican superdelegates do not have the freedom to vote for whichever candidate they please. The Republican National Committee ruled in 2015 that their superdelegates must initially vote for the candidate that their state voted for.
5. Winner-take-all System Distort the Popular Will
We would like the winner of an election to be the person who received the most popular votes. In a few of our past Presidential elections, this did not happen. For example, Gore received the popular vote in the 2000 election but did not win the Presidency. The Supreme Court ended up causing George Bush to be elected as the President.
Part of the problem is that all but two states work on a winner-take-all system. In this system, the candidate who wins a plurality or majority of the votes wins all the votes. This candidate probably shares many of the same ideas and values as the largest voting block in his or her constituency. This system ensures that the will of the majority prevails.
But this system also can leave the will of the minority underrepresented. If the minority vote in all the states is added up, it might be quite considerable. And it is made up of certain ethnic or religious groups, their interests will be underrepresented in the legislature. Winner-take-all system represent a deviation from the principle of "one citizen, one vote."
No political election system is perfect. I have chosen five features of the current system that deserve more discussion and possible reform. The five elements work but the question is whether they deliver the best candidates that we can hope for. Hopefully more research will be carried out on these issues and give us the answers.
For more on this topic, see Philip Kotler's current book: Confronting Capitalism, and Democracy in Decline, Rebuilding the Future (forthcoming - Sage, July 2016).
What do you think?Join the debate. And please tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Philip Kotler is the S.C. Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management in Chicago. His most recent work is "Confronting Capitalism: Real Solutions for a Troubled Economic System."
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"Elect" redirects here. For other uses, see -elect and Election (disambiguation).
"Free election" redirects here. For the "free elections" of Polish kings, see Royal elections in Poland.
An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations.
The universal use of elections as a tool for selecting representatives in modern representative democracies is in contrast with the practice in the democratic archetype, ancient Athens, where the Elections were considered an oligarchic institution and most political offices were filled using sortition, also known as allotment, by which officeholders were chosen by lot.
Electoral reform describes the process of introducing fair electoral systems where they are not in place, or improving the fairness or effectiveness of existing systems. Psephology is the study of results and other statistics relating to elections (especially with a view to predicting future results).
To elect means "to choose or make a decision", and so sometimes other forms of ballot such as referendums are referred to as elections, especially in the United States.
See also: History of democracy
Elections were used as early in history as ancient Greece and ancient Rome, and throughout the Medieval period to select rulers such as the Holy Roman Emperor (see imperial election) and the pope (see papal election).
In Vedic period of India, the raja (chiefs) of a gana (a tribal organization) was apparently elected by the gana. The raja belonged to the noble Kshatriyavarna (warrior class), and was typically a son of the previous raja. However, the gana members had the final say in his elections. Even during the Sangam Period people elected their representatives by casting their votes and the ballot boxes (Usually a pot) were tied by rope and sealed. After the election the votes were taken out and counted. The Pala king Gopala (ruled c. 750s–770s CE) in early medieval Bengal was elected by a group of feudal chieftains. Such elections were quite common in contemporary societies of the region. In Chola Empire, around 920 CE, in Uthiramerur (in present-day Tamil Nadu), palm leaves were used for selecting the village committee members. The leaves, with candidate names written on them, were put inside a mud pot. To select the committee members, a young boy was asked to take out as many leaves as the number of positions available. This was known as the Kudavolai system.
The modern "election", which consists of public elections of government officials, didn't emerge until the beginning of the 17th century when the idea of representative government took hold in North America and Europe.
Questions of suffrage, especially suffrage for minority groups, have dominated the history of elections. Males, the dominate cultural group in North America and Europe, often dominated the electorate and continue to do so in many countries. Early elections in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States were dominated by landed or ruling class males. However, by 1920 all Western European and North American democracies had universal adult male suffrage (except Switzerland) and many countries began to consider women's suffrage. Despite legally mandated universal suffrage for adult males, political barriers were sometimes erected to prevent fair access to elections (See Civil Rights Movement).
The question of who may vote is a central issue in elections. The electorate does not generally include the entire population; for example, many countries prohibit those who are under the age of majority from voting, all jurisdictions require a minimum age for voting.
In Australia Aboriginal people were not given the right to vote until 1962 (see 1967 referendum entry) and in 2010 the federal government removed the rights of prisoners to vote (a large proportion of which are Aboriginal Australians).
Suffrage is typically only for citizens of the country, though further limits may be imposed.
However, in the European Union, one can vote in municipal elections if one lives in the municipality and is an EU citizen; the nationality of the country of residence is not required.
In some countries, voting is required by law; if an eligible voter does not cast a vote, he or she may be subject to punitive measures such as a fine.
A representative democracy requires a procedure to govern nomination for political office. In many cases, nomination for office is mediated through preselection processes in organized political parties.
Non-partisan systems tend to differ from partisan systems as concerns nominations. In a direct democracy, one type of non-partisan democracy, any eligible person can be nominated. In some non-partisan representative. History of elections. Although elections were used in ancient Athens, in Rome, and in the selection of popes and Holy Roman emperors, the origins of elections in the contemporary world lie in the gradual emergence of representative government in Europe and North America beginning in the 17th century. systems no nominations (or campaigning, electioneering, etc.) take place at all, with voters free to choose any person at the time of voting—with some possible exceptions such as through a minimum age requirement—in the jurisdiction. In such cases, it is not required (or even possible) that the members of the electorate be familiar with all of the eligible persons, though such systems may involve indirect elections at larger geographic levels to ensure that some first-hand familiarity among potential electees can exist at these levels (i.e., among the elected delegates).
As far as partisan systems, in some countries, only members of a particular political party can be nominated. Or, any eligible person can be nominated through a petition; thus allowing him or her to be listed.
Electoral systems are the detailed constitutional arrangements and voting systems that convert the vote into a political decision. The first step is to tally the votes, for which various vote counting systems and ballot types are used. Voting systems then determine the result on the basis of the tally. Most systems can be categorized as either proportional or majoritarian. Among the former are party-list proportional representation and additional member system. Among the latter are First Past the Post (FPP) (relative majority) and absolute majority. Many countries have growing electoral reform movements, which advocate systems such as approval voting, single transferable vote, instant runoff voting or a Condorcet method; these methods are also gaining popularity for lesser elections in some countries where more important elections still use more traditional counting methods.
While openness and accountability are usually considered cornerstones of a democratic system, the act of casting a vote and the content of a voter's ballot are usually an important exception. The secret ballot is a relatively modern development, but it is now considered crucial in most free and fair elections, as it limits the effectiveness of intimidation.
The nature of democracy is that elected officials are accountable to the people, and they must return to the voters at prescribed intervals to seek their mandate to continue in office. For that reason most democratic constitutions provide that elections are held at fixed regular intervals. In the United States, elections are held between every three and six years in most states, with exceptions such as the U.S. House of Representatives, which stands for election every two years. There is a variety of schedules, for example presidents: the President of Ireland is elected every seven years, the President of Russia and the President of Finland every six years, the President of France every five years, President of the United States every four years.
Pre-determined or fixed election dates have the advantage of fairness and predictability. However, they tend to greatly lengthen campaigns, and make dissolving the legislature (parliamentary system) more problematic if the date should happen to fall at time when dissolution is inconvenient (e.g. when war breaks out). Other states (e.g., the United Kingdom) only set maximum time in office, and the executive decides exactly when within that limit it will actually go to the polls. In practice, this means the government remains in power for close to its full term, and choose an election date it calculates to be in its best interests (unless something special happens, such as a motion of no-confidence). This calculation depends on a number of variables, such as its performance in opinion polls and the size of its majority.
Main article: Political campaign
When elections are called, politicians and their supporters attempt to influence policy by competing directly for the votes of constituents in what are called campaigns. Supporters for a campaign can be either formally organized or loosely affiliated, and frequently utilize campaign advertising. It is common for political scientists to attempt to predict elections via Political Forecasting methods.
The most expensive election campaign included US$7 billion spent on the United States presidential election, 2012 and is followed by the US$5 billion spent on the Indian general election, 2014.
Difficulties with elections
Main articles: Electoral fraud and Unfair election
In many countries with weak rule of law, the most common reason why elections do not meet international standards of being "free and fair" is interference from the incumbent government. Dictators may use the powers of the executive (police, martial law, censorship, physical implementation of the election mechanism, etc.) to remain in power despite popular opinion in favor of removal. Members of a particular faction in a legislature may use the power of the majority or supermajority (passing criminal laws, defining the electoral mechanisms including eligibility and district boundaries) to prevent the balance of power in the body from shifting to a rival faction due to an election.
Non-governmental entities can also interfere with elections, through physical force, verbal intimidation, or fraud, which can result in improper casting or counting of votes. Monitoring for and minimizing electoral fraud is also an ongoing task in countries with strong traditions of free and fair elections. Problems that prevent an election from being "free and fair" take various forms:
Lack of open political debate or an informed electorate
The electorate may be poorly informed about issues or candidates due to lack of freedom of the press, lack of objectivity in the press due to state or corporate control, and/or lack of access to news and political media. Freedom of speech may be curtailed by the state, favoring certain viewpoints or state propaganda.
Gerrymandering, exclusion of opposition candidates from eligibility for office, needlessly high restrictions on who may be a candidate, like ballot access rules, and manipulating thresholds for electoral success are some of the ways the structure of an election can be changed to favor a specific faction or candidate.
Interference with campaigns
Those in power may arrest or assassinate candidates, suppress or even criminalize campaigning, close campaign headquarters, harass or beat campaign workers, or intimidate voters with violence. Foreign electoral intervention can also occur.
Tampering with the election mechanism
This can include confusing or misleading voters about how to vote, violation of the secret ballot, ballot stuffing, tampering with voting machines, destruction of legitimately cast ballots, voter suppression, voter registration fraud, failure to validate voter residency, fraudulent tabulation of results, and use of physical force or verbal intimation at polling places.
Other examples include persuading candidates into not standing against them, such as through blackmailing, bribery, intimidation or physical violence. History of elections. Although elections were used in ancient Athens, in Rome, and in the selection of popes and Holy Roman emperors, the origins of elections in the contemporary world lie in the gradual emergence of representative government in Europe and North America beginning in the 17th century.
- Arrow, Kenneth J. 1963. Social Choice and Individual Values. 2nd ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- Benoit, Jean-Pierre and Lewis A. Kornhauser. 1994. "Social Choice in a Representative Democracy." American Political Science Review 88.1: 185–192.
- Corrado Maria, Daclon. 2004. US elections and war on terrorism – Interview with professor Massimo Teodori Analisi Difesa, n. 50
- Farquharson, Robin. 1969. A Theory of Voting. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
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- Ware, Alan. 1987. Citizens, Parties and the State. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
|Look up election in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Election|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elections.|
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