The Presidential Election: What’s going on?

Having a resident American of my very own means that I get an insight on things that maybe I wouldn’t normally.

Like putting sausage meat on a pizza. Or learning the subtle art of stepping into traffic with the confidence of a drunkard (to be clear, Mr M does not do the latter).

The thing I was most excited about, however, was the arrival of the postal vote ballot paper. I’d give my left eye to get into an American polling centre, and maybe throw in the eyebrow if it meant getting to stand in a booth with a curtain.

But that’s never going to happen, so I have to settle for getting my paws on a fresh ballot paper instead. And you know that they take this stuff seriously, because they send you a 32-page tome explaining the entire process.

It even details the way they elect a president – which is nice because all this stuff about Electoral Colleges does not compute with me. Allow me to hastily cobble together a confusing explanation.

What is the Electoral College?

What you may not know is that the US Constitution doesn’t enshrine a voter’s right to elect their President. It allows for the public to vote for those who will then go on to vote for President. Confused? Me too.

We’ll use California as an example, which has 55 Electoral College votes (the number of congressional districts in the state plus two). Each party chooses members who form their Electoral College. A congressional district seems to be comparable to a federal electorate in Australia.

The number of Electoral College votes by state. Hawaii also has four and Alaska has three.

If the public go to the polls on November 8 and overwhelmingly choose Clinton as the next President, the Democrats then will send their Electoral College members to vote with others from across the country on December 19.

Some states do things a little differently: by sending two EC members for the states’ overall winner and then one EC member for each congressional district won.

Ballot Papers

There are papers for days, and that’s because of all of the propositions voters need to put their two cents-worth in on. The 2016 California ballot has 17 propositions and much like our referendums, the American public get to vote yes or no on each of them.

Here are some of this year’s highlights:

  • Legalising marijuana
  • Plastic bags
  • Repealing or changing the death penalty
  • Healthcare and drug prices
  • Making it mandatory for porn actors to wear condoms
  • Tobacco taxes

In short, it’s a lot of the pesky stuff that we in Australia just get our elected officials to decide for us.

And then there’s the part where you get to actually cast your vote for your preferred President. Even though what you’re really voting for is the Electoral College representative of that candidate to then go to your state’s capital and cast their vote for that candidate.

Oh and by the way, if you aren’t keen on any of the candidates listed, you can write in your own! That’s what Bernie Sanders supporters are urging their bretheran to do this year.

And that, my friends, is the whole convoluted mess. *Exhale* I need a drink. My brain hurts. Happy 2016 Presidential Election!
Linking up with I Blog On Tuesday! (even though it’s still Monday in America… we’re so backwards here!)

12 thoughts on “The Presidential Election: What’s going on?

  1. Who knew it was so complicated ? Mind you, at the last election here the ballot paper was over 1m long so maybe ours is just as complicated – just in a different way !! LOL
    I do like the idea of tagging on some referendum items and saving money from having to have a referendum on issues- and then only on one issue at a time !!
    Fingers crossed the right person gets elected – God help us all if they don't !!

  2. I was just thinking about you this morning! How are you doing?
    It is so tough to wrap your head around. But to be honest I just can't wait for it to be all over! I'm sick of the "he said" "she said" and all of the ugliness. Fingers crossed that it doesn't all go pear shaped!

  3. I had no idea it was so complicated! My brain hurts just thinking about it! We voted in the Australian elections for the first time this year and we thought the Australian ballot papers were long especially for the Senate, but clearly the Aussies have nothing on their American counterparts! You know it's going to be tricky when there's a voting manual! May the political planets align!

  4. Gee, I thought the tablecloth we get for the Senate is hard enough to navigate. My brain got tired trying to take that all in. Just watched ABC Breakfast here and Michael Rowland explained why the Tuesday is the voting day. Back to Horse and Buggy Days essentially. I am relying on you for the up to date US election info…like many others. "having your resident american" mmmm cute line! Denyse #teamIBOT

  5. It took me two days to right this post Sammie. And about 10 years of ignoring the way US elections work in the hopes that I'd just pick it up via osmosis. Unfortunately the latter did not happen.
    Oh you poor things, the Australian Senate Ballot is a pain in the butt. And they changed it this year! You used to just be able to vote one above the line.

  6. Don't worry about it Denyse, do what I do and wait until it's all over and watch the news. Haha, I'm scared to look up why that would be. They're big on tradition etc over here, I'm learning.
    LOL, I'm planning on burying my head in the sand until it's all over though! I don't need the suspense.

  7. I find the system so complicated and furthermore find it so hard to believe just how much of a potential impact it has on us here. Really interested in hearing the results and then watching what happens next.

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