An Analysis of the American Electoral Process

Topics: Election, Elections, Voting Pages: 8 (3001 words) Published: April 29, 2011
As an intricate and complex institution within our society, America’s system of government has been a source of both upset and major progression in the history of America. As with most major institutions in our society that involve any consequences directly affecting individuals’ lives and rights, the political system ebbs and flows in both beneficial and detrimental ways. When it comes to the process and outcomes of policies, decision-making, and leadership within the government, however, the American electoral system proves to be among the most scrutinized and criticized aspects of government today.

The process of voting within the United States has, like many other aspects of government, has evolved vastly since the delegation of power first began with English settlers. The changes that have occurred over time have been immense despite major adversity, disagreement, and the ongoing complexity of political systems, parties, campaigns, and citizen involvement. With consideration of the American political electoral system as a whole and the overall progress government has made in attempt to be fair, just, and in the best interest of “the people,” I agree that the history and evolution of government is commendable and worthy of recognition. In regards to the current function and execution of the electoral process, however, I find some systematic components to be flawed due to a combination of factors including candidate partisanship and the strict ideological division of political parties; irregularity of voter representation and populations; biased sources of campaign finance; the heavy involvement of interest groups and PACs; and the influence of mainstream media. Many political theorists and even citizens themselves have argued that one of the most obvious and reoccurring aspects of our election process that is flawed is the limited knowledge and engagement that exists within American electoral process and political culture. There are many reasons as to why limited knowledge of and lack of participation in politics may occur within the American population, including disinterest in or perhaps even lack of education about elections, candidates, campaigning, and voting. Though this lack of engagement presents a problem for any democratic system, what may be more important is who chooses to engage in the political sphere, and what implications this has for our democratic process. Kernell, Jacobson, and Kousser argue that there exist many factors that contribute to changes in voting behaviors including but not limited to age of voter registration, political partisanship, financial status, social class, and educational awareness about politics. As Kernell, Jacobson, and Kousser maintain, Age and education have the strongest influence on voting.... [but also] the assorted demographic and institutional influences on voting produce an electorate in which wealthy, well-educated, older white people are overrepresented and the poor, undereducated, young, and nonwhite are underrepresented…. People with social advantages are more likely to be mobilized by parties, interest groups, and campaign organizations. Political leaders deploy their scarce resources efficiently, targeting the people who are cheapest to reach and likeliest to respond (521)

The authors also state that those below the age of 25 tend to be less engaged in political campaigns, and with this, race, class, religion, and self-benefit play an important role in determining whether Americans will vote. For example, Kernell, Jacobson and Kousser discuss how African Americans, Hispanics, low-income civilians, and women have historically been left on the outskirts of political elections, and are therefore less likely to vote or identify with a specific party (518). They also bring up role of benefits in terms of voter turnout, pointing out, “the benefits of elections- in both the broad sense of maintaining democratic accountability and in the narrower sense of...
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