The institutional structure of the United States is based on three fundamental points. For example a rigid division between the powers of the State, the strong political weight assigned to the President who in the intentions of the "Founding Fathers" of the new nation had to assume the same role he had then the Sovereign in the United Kingdom and the presence of a federal order for the country.
The reasons for choosing the institutional structure and the presidential election system
During the work of the "Convention" held in Philadelphia from May to September 1787, various projects were presented to give a new institutional structure that would replace the previous nonfederal structure by many parts now considered unsuitable for facing the country's political and economic problems. However, the advanced plans did not find the approval of the delegates, and it was only at the end of the work when it seemed that the "Convention" should result in failure, that an agreement was found on a proposal indicated as "Connecticut Compromise."
The plan called for the legislative to be a bicameral type, consisting of a House of Representatives elected by popular vote. So each state would elect several deputies in proportion to its population and a Senate where all states would have two senators designated through a vote cast by the various legislatures. While the President placed at the head of the executive, would have been indirectly elected by an "Electoral College." The reason why this particular system was adopted for the election of the Head of State must be sought primarily in the skepticism expressed by the delegates towards the other two advanced solutions, such as that of having the President elected by Congress or entrusting the choice directly to the voters.
The first system was rejected because, for many to entrust the election to the legislation would not only lead to continuous compromises on the choice of personality. They favored the exchange vote between the parliamentarians and the various candidates but also placed at risk the principle on the division of powers on which the constitutional text was based.
The idea of putting the election in the hands of the masses, even if it met the favor of some exponents like Madison, instead of raised strong doubts in the majority of the delegates, convinced that the citizens did not have the necessary preparation and were also conditioned by external factors.
There were also practical reasons to make the idea of a popular election difficult to implement. At that time, the United States had only four million inhabitants spread over a vast territory where communications were very difficult, all of which made the execution of a national election campaign impracticable.
For these reasons, the indirect election was chosen, thus entrusting the choice of the future Head of State to a group of expert persons - the "Great Electors" - who would have evaluated more carefully the profile of the various candidates. This system reflected the conception of the State and of the politics of the "Founding Fathers" who did not see favorably the presence of political parties considered carriers of divisions and did not have great confidence in the qualities of the people.
The same Constitution, which still represents the oldest constitutional text in force, is characterized by its extreme conciseness, limiting itself to defining only the prerogatives attributed to the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court as well as the powers of the federal government and those of the various States of the Union. A principle introduced not only to meet the autonomous aspirations of the individual states of the 'Union but also because it would have been effectively difficult to adopt a centralized administration given the differences existing between the different areas of the country.
The President's election system and its characteristics
The Presidential election procedure in the United States is extremely long and complex, and in over two centuries of history, it has not undergone any substantial change. According to the constitutional provision, to participate in the presidential elections, it is necessary to be 35 years of age, to be an American citizen by birth, and to reside in the United States for at least 14 years. A provision excludes those who have acquired nationality by naturalization as well as residents of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands as "unincorporated territories" of the United States.
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The first step is constituted by the primary elections that the Democrats and Republicans hold in the various States of the country between January and June of the electoral year. Even if the exponents of both parties wishing to participate in them usually announce their candidacy sometime before the start of consultations to gain visibility at the electorate.
The primaries can take place in two different ways; the first is that of the "Caucus," where the candidate's choice is at the hands of an assembly of local party representatives. The second is instead that of a popular consultation that can be "open" when a voter can choose between all the candidates presented by the different formations, or "closed" where on the contrary it is allowed to express preference only for the exponents of the party for which it is recorded.
Candidates who have won an absolute majority of delegates during the primaries receive the nomination to compete for the White House from their respective "Conventions." The designation of the vice-president, who will form the "ticket" for the election campaign and that, according to the Constitution, must not come from the same state of origin as the presidential candidate.
Subsequently, the two candidates proceed to designate the persons who will be in charge of the presidential elector chosen in the various States through different procedures. The campaign thus enters the decisive phase that will culminate in the November vote. The date of the consultations is, in fact, established by a law of 1845, which sets precisely on the first Tuesday that follows the first Monday of November the day on which to hold the presidential elections.
The President is elected indirectly by a panel of 538 "Great Electors" representing the 50 States of the Union and of the District of Columbia (DC), territory where the federal capital Washington is located, which have a share of voters to that of the senators and deputies that each of them elects to the Congress. If each state has two senators, the number of deputies it deserves instead varies according to the resident population, so that an increase or decrease in its inhabitants will have a similar effect on the members that it will elect to the House of Representatives.
The procedure provides that the deputies of a State - regardless of the party to which they belong - meet and proceed to the vote and once the presidential candidate, who will obtain the majority of the preferences, has been voted, the State vote will be given, whereas, if the candidates appear to be at par, this will be considered "divided" and will not be counted in the final result.