Elections and Voting in the U. S.

Today, in the United States, all legal citizens over the age of 17 can participate in the voting process. A prospective voter registers in the district in which he lives. He must vote there unless he changes his residence. A voter can vote in a presidential election, elections for state offices and local elections for county or city offices.

However, originally in America, in 1776, only white male citizens over 21 who owned property had the right to vote. Catholics, Jews, Quakers and some others were prevented from this right. An amendment is an addition to the Constitution. The fourteenth and fifteenth amendments, in 1868 and 1870, made male Black Americans citizens and gave them the right to vote. In 1870, citizenship was given to Native Americans only if they gave up their connection with their tribe. In 1924, however, an act granted all non-citizen Native Americans who had been born in the United States the right of citizenship and the right to vote.

The nineteenth amendment, in 1919, gave women the right to vote. In 1971, the twenty-sixth amendment gave the right to vote to every citizen who is 18 or over. It is important that every citizen who is eligible vote whenever an election comes up. That way everyone has some say in who is in charge of a city, county, state or the United States.

Early elections consisted of paper ballots placed into a wooden box. Later came the voting machine in a booth with a curtain. Many voting districts now use a form on which the voter fills in a bubble next to the person whom the voter is choosing. Advances in technology have now made touch-screen voting available in some areas. States run every election and can choose the method they want to use.

In the United States, most candidates in elections come from either the Democrat or Republican Party, but sometimes another party may propose a candidate. If there is more than one candidate from a party wanting an office, a primary is usually held. A voter registers for one party. He goes to a 'polling place' and chooses one candidate from that party for whom he wants to vote. The candidate from that party who receives the most votes becomes the only candidate from that party. He then runs against candidates from the other parties. In state and local elections, whichever candidate gets the most votes wins.

Presidential elections are a little more complicated. The parties have presidential primaries, and the candidates from each party battle for the office. They spend a year or more going around the country talking and giving speeches. The founders of our country drew up a plan different from state and local elections for choosing a President. In the Constitution, they instituted a plan where the President was not elected by a direct popular vote. That means that the candidate with the most votes from the whole country doesn't necessarily win the office of President.

The process of electing a President involves the Electoral College. Each state has electors chosen by the state. The number equals the number of Representatives in the House of Representatives plus 2 for the number of senators. The total number of electors in the country is 538. A majority of 270 electoral votes is needed to win. Most states take the candidate who won the popular vote in their state and give him all of the electoral votes from that state. However, there are some states which split the vote based on the percentage of votes each candidate receives. Each party has selected electors who are leaders of their party in the state or have some other qualification. When a voter votes for any candidate, he is voting for the electors of that party.

A: Governor of a state
B: President of the United States
C: Mayor of a city
D: Mayor of a town

A: State electors
B: Congress
C: The Senate
D: The House of Representatives

A: 529
B: 271
C: 538
D: 623

A: Second
B: Fourteenth
C: Nineteenth
D: Seventh

A: Black Americans
B: Native Americans
C: Males under 30
D: Women

A: Elector
B: Primary
C: Senate
D: Party chairman

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