ch.13c - The Purposes Served by Elections Most change in...

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The Purposes Served by Elections Most change in this country comes about on the basis of elections. Popular elections allow us to avoid the unpleasantness of political change in some countries where riots, strikes, and coups d'etat are fairly routine. Elections also serve to legitimate governments. They serve to fill public offices and organize governments. Elections allow people with different views and policy agendas to come to power. Elections also ensure that a government remains accountable to the people.The winner of an election often claims a mandate or a command from the people to implement their agenda. Sometimes this claim is true, other times it is not. That is because people may be voting for you based on the promises of your campaign (prospective judgement), or they may have been voting against your opponent or an incumbent or a party that was in power (retrospective judgement). In the former case, you can claim a mandate; in the latter, it would be a difficult task to do so. Different Kinds of Elections Primary Elections In a primary, the voters choose who will carry the party's banner in the general election. So it is an election that occurs within a party. There are several different types of primaries: closed primaries: only party members are allowed to vote open primaries: allows independents and members of other parties to vote blanket primary: voters may vote in either party's primary, but not both, on an office by office basis runoff primary: a second round contest between the two candidates with the most votes Closed primaries allow the party maximum control and promote party strength. Open primaries are considered more democratic since participation is open to all voters regardless of party affiliation. General Elections Once the parties have chosen their candidates, the general election is held. The general election is a contest between parties and fills a public office. Initiative, Referendum, and RecallUsed in 24 states and D.C., initiative, referendum, and recall are three other types of election. Initiatives and referenda involve voting on issues. Initiatives allow citizens to propose legislation and submit it to popular vote. Each state that has initiative determines the requirements for ballot access, usually a certain number of signatures on a petition. A referendum allows the legislature to submit proposed legislation for popular approval. Some referenda are voluntary—the legislature wants to get voter input. Others are mandatory—more and more states are requiring referenda for tax increases and such.Recall is different. Recall elections allow citizens to remove someone from office. They are very rare, but allow for another level of accountability for public officials.All three types of elections are often referred to as direct democracy, and were first proposed during the Progressive era. They are democratic, but not problem- free. Several problems occur. First, the number of initiatives and referenda on ballots can be mind-numbing. In California,
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course ? ? taught by Professor ? during the Spring '07 term at Gustavus.

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ch.13c - The Purposes Served by Elections Most change in...

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