POLS Chapter 10 - Ch 10: Elections and Voting Behavior -...

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- Politics in Action o Elections serve a critical function in American society. They institutionalize political activity, making it possible for most political participation to be channeled through the electoral process. Elections provide regular access to political power so that leaders can be replaced without being overthrown. o Elections have legitimacy in the eyes of the American people. - How American elections work o The US has 3 general kinds of elections: primary elections, general elections and elections on specific policy questions in which voters engage in making or ratifying legislation. o Two methods of getting items on a state ballot Referendum: where voters are given the chance to approve or disapprove some legislative act, bond issue or constitutional amendment. Initiative petition: which typically requires gaining signatures on a proposed law equal to 10% of voters in the previous election. - The Tale of three elections o 1800: the first electoral transition of power For this election, there were no primaries, no nominating conventions, no candidate speeches and no entourage of reporters. Between incumbent president John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Once nominated, the candidates sat back and let their state and local organizations promote their cause. Newspapers: Jefferson was regularly denounced as a Bible burning atheist and Adams was said to be a monarchist. The focus of the campaign was not on the voters, but rather on the state legislatures, which had the responsibility for choosing members of the Electoral College. In the original constitution, each elector cast two ballots, and the top vote getter was named president and the runner up became vice president. In 1796, Jefferson became Adam’s vice-president because he finished second. For this election, Jefferson made sure that his electors also voted for the vice president of his choice. On March 4, 1801, the transition from Adams to Jefferson marked the first peaceful transition of power between parties via the electoral process in world history. o 1896: A bitter fight over economic interests The election of 1896 was largely fought over economics. William McKinley vs. William Jennings Bryan.
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This note was uploaded on 10/04/2010 for the course POLS POLS 206-1 taught by Professor Fulton during the Fall '09 term at Texas A&M.

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POLS Chapter 10 - Ch 10: Elections and Voting Behavior -...

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