Election of The President of America
There are two aspects to the election of the President – (1) the theoretical aspect and (2) the practical aspect.
(1) Theoretical Aspect
The procedure for the election of the President is given in section 2 part 1 subsection 2 and 3, which are as follows –
(i) The President is elected by an electoral college consisting of 538 members, that is, as many members are elected in the electoral college from each state as the representatives of that state are in the House and Senate.
(ii) The members of the electoral college are directly elected by the people. Elections to the Electoral College are held on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November. In this election it becomes clear who will be the future President.
(iii) The manner in which the representatives of each state will be elected is decided by the legislature of that state.
(iv) In the month of December, the members of the electoral college vote together in their respective state capitals and the ballot boxes are sent to the President of the Senate for counting of votes.
(v) The President of the Senate counts the votes in the presence of both houses of Congress.
(vi) The candidate who gets the majority is declared the winner.
(vii) If no candidate has a majority, the President is elected by the House of Representatives from among the three candidates who have received the most votes. The principle of ‘one state, one vote’ applies in the House of Representatives.
(viii) Each state has the right to cast one vote and the candidate who gets the majority is declared the President.
(ix) According to the 20th Amendment (1933), the newly elected President assumes office after noon on 20 January.
(2) Practical Aspect
The practical aspect of the election of the President consists of the following steps:
1. Election of the candidate – First of all, in the election process, a national convention is called by both the main parties to nominate candidates for the post of President, which is usually held in a metropolis in the month of July or August. From 1,500 to 3,000 delegates participate in this national convention. On the basis of this the candidate is selected. The nomination for the Vice President is also done in the same conference.
2. Election Campaign – After the nomination of the candidates, the election campaign is started. Radio, television, newspapers, internet etc. are used in election campaign and direct contact with voters is established. Radio, TV And through other electronic media, the candidate influences the voters with his personality and speech.
3. Election of the electoral college –
(i) The election of the President is held in the leap year like- 1984-1988-1992-1996-2000-2004-2008-2012-2016-2020
(ii) In a leap year, the election of the members of the electoral college is held on the first Tuesday of the month of November or on such day as the government may decide.
(iii) Every citizen of the age of 18 years has the right to vote and the members of the electoral college are elected by the list system. In this, voters cast their vote on the entire list and not on any candidate. The members of the Board elected by the political parties are set up and the President is also the candidate of the political parties. Thus political parties have made indirect elections direct. The party which gets the majority in the electoral college, usually the candidate of that party is elected President.
4. Election Board and Presidential Election – This election is done by the electoral college on the second Wednesday of the month of December by gathering in the capitals of their respective states. The voting results for each state are sent to the president of the Senate and he counts the votes in front of members of Congress on January 6. According to the 12th Amendment, if no candidate has a clear majority, one of the three candidates with the most votes is elected. The principle of “one state, one vote” applies in the House of Representatives. In other words, the candidate who has the support of more than half of the states is elected President.
5. According to the 20th Amendment (1933), the newly-elected President assumes his office on January 20.
Criticism of the Election Process
The process of election of the President is criticized as follows:
(i) Expensive system – The election of the President of America is an expensive system; Because it costs a lot. Therefore, an ordinary person cannot contest this election.
(ii) Long process – In leap years, the election process starts in July or August and goes on till the President assumes the office. Therefore, the atmosphere of the nation remains polluted for about 16 months.
(iii) Non-democratic – Sometimes such a candidate also becomes the President who has got a minority of all the people. For example, in 1912, Wilson received only 43% of the public’s vote, while he had received 18% of the vote in the electoral college. Not only this, but sometimes the members of the electoral college also leave their party and support the candidate of another party.
(iv) Direct elections – Although the constitution makers have supported the indirect election system, but due to the development of political parties, the election has become direct. In short, the process of electing the American President is highly democratic. Due to the development of political parties, the election of the President has become practically direct.
Currently, on January 20, 2021, Joe Biden assumed office as the 47th President of the United States.