An election is a decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold formal office. Decision making can be regarded as an outcome of mental processes ( cognitive process) leading to the selection of a course of action among several alternatives This is the usual mechanism by which modern democracy fills offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government. Democracy is a form of government in which the supreme power is held completely by the people under a free electoral system A legislature is a type of representative Deliberative assembly with the power to create amend and change Laws The law created by a legislature is called Legislation In Political science and Constitutional law, the executive is the branch of government responsible for the day-to-day management of the State. In Law, the judiciary or judicial system is the system of Courts which administer Justice in the name of the sovereign or State Examples of administrative divisions English terms In many of the following terms corresponding to British cultural influence areas of relatively low mean population Local governments are administrative offices that are smaller than a State. This process is also used in many other private and business organizations, from clubs to voluntary associations and corporations. A business (also called firm or an enterprise) is a legally recognized organizational entity designed to provide goods and/or services to A voluntary association or union (also sometimes called a voluntary organization, unincorporated association, or just an association) is a group A corporation is a separate legal entity usually used to conduct business As Montesquieu pointed out in Book II, Chapter 2 of "The Spirit of Laws," in the case of elections in either a republic or a democracy, voters alternate between being the rulers of the country as well as being the subjects of the government. Charles-Louis de Secondat baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (Eng By the act of voting, the people operate in a sovereign (or ruling) capacity, acting as "masters" to select their government's "servants. " The unique characteristic of democracies and republics is the recognition that the only legitimate source of power for a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is the consent of the governed—the people themselves. " Consent of the governed " is a political theory stating that a Government 's legitimacy and Moral right to use State power
The universal acceptance of elections as a tool for selecting representatives in modern democracies is in contrast with the practice in the democratic archetype, ancient Athens. An archetype ( pronounced: /ˈɑːkɪtaɪp/ (Brit or /ˈɑrkɪtaɪp/ (Amer The History of Athens is one of the longest of any city in Europe and in the world Elections were considered an oligarchic institution and most political offices were filled using sortition, also known as allotment, by which officeholders were chosen by lot. Oligarchy' ( Greek, Oligarkhía) is a Form of government where Political power effectively rests with a small elite segment Sortition, also known as allotment, is an equal-chance method of selection by some form of lottery such as drawing coloured pebbles from a bag
Electoral reform describes the process of introducing fair electoral systems where they are not in place, or improving the fairness or effectiveness of existing systems. Electoral reform is change in Electoral systems to improve how public desires are expressed in election results Psephology is the study of results and other statistics relating to elections (especially with a view to predicting future results). Psephology (from Greek psephos ψῆφος 'pebble' which the Greeks used as ballots is the Statistical analysis of Elections Psephology uses compilations Statistics is a mathematical science pertaining to the collection analysis interpretation or explanation and presentation of Data.
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In normative political philosophy, the authority of the government in democracies derives solely from the consent of the governed. Politics Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions Sortition, also known as allotment, is an equal-chance method of selection by some form of lottery such as drawing coloured pebbles from a bag A by-election or bye-election (called special election in the United States) is an Election held to fill a political office that has become vacant Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an Election. A show election or a sham election is an Election that is held purely for show that is without any significant political purpose A Fixed-term election is an Election that occurs on a set date and cannot be changed by the incumbent politician A general election is an Election in which all or most members of a given political body are up for election A primary election ( nominating primary) also referred to simply as a primary, is an election in which voters in a Jurisdiction select candidates Indirect election is a process in which voters in an Election do not actually choose between candidates for an office but rather elect persons who will then make the choice Local Elections vary widely across Jurisdictions In Electoral systems that roughly follow the Westminster model, a terminology has evolved A referendum (plural referendums or referenda) ballot question, or plebiscite (from Latin plebiscita Apportionment is the process of allocating political power among a set of principles (or defined constituencies In multiple-party democratic primary elections crossover voting refers to a technique used by voters in which ballots are cast for the party a voter is opposed to in order to elect Gerrymandering is a form of redistribution in which electoral district or Constituency boundaries are manipulated for electoral advantage Redistricting, a form of redistribution, is the process of changing of political Borders in the United States The secret ballot is a voting method in which a Voter 's choices are confidential Suffrage (from the Latin suffragium, meaning "voting tablet" and figuratively "right to vote" probably from suffrago "hough" and originally A political party is a Political organization that seeks to attain and maintain political power within Government, usually by participating in electoral A voting system allows voters to choose between options often in an Election where candidates are selected for public office. Elections by country gives information on Elections For each De jure and De facto sovereign state and dependent territory The list of election results by country gives information on Elections For each De jure and De facto sovereign state and Political philosophy is the study of questions about the City, Government, Politics, Liberty, Justice, Property, Rights In Politics, authority ( Latin Auctoritas, used in Roman law as opposed to Potestas and Imperium For the government of parliamentary systems see Executive (government. The principal mechanism for translating that consent into governmental authority is the holding of elections. It is agreed that elections should be free and fair.
There is a broad consensus as to what kind of elections can be considered free and fair. Jeane Kirkpatrick, scholar and former United States ambassador to the United Nations, has offered this definition: "Democratic elections are not merely symbolic… They are competitive, periodic, inclusive, definitive elections in which the chief decision-makers in a government are selected by citizens who enjoy broad freedom to criticize government, to publish their criticism and to present alternatives. Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick ( November 19, 1926  &ndash December 7, 2006) was an American ambassador and an ardent The United States of America —commonly referred to as the An ambassador is the highest ranking Diplomat who represents their country The United Nations ( UN) is an International organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in International law, International security "
Democracy Watch (International) website, further defines fair democratic elections as, "Elections in which great care is taken to prevent any explicit or hidden structural bias towards any one candidate, aside from those beneficial biases that naturally result from an electorate that is equally well informed about the various assets and liabilities of each candidate". This article is about Democracy Watch (International based in Ann Arbor Michigan This was more formally stated in 2000 by Chief Justice Murray Gleeson of the High Court of Australia as "The democratic and lawful means of securing change, if change be necessary, is an expression of the will of an informed electorate. The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English Anthony Murray Gleeson, AC, QC (born 30 August, 1938) is a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the The High Court of Australia is the final court of appeal in Australia the highest court in the Australian court hierarchy. "
While the requirement of free and fair election is easily observable, the requirement of an informed electorate is difficult to achieve. Only a small part of the electorate will be able to know the candidates on a personal level and thus the information of the electorate will be incomplete. In this case, the rest of the electorate has to rely on third party information and official programs of the respective candidates. The latter is especially unreliable, since there is only a moral but no legislative obligations to keep them in modern democracies. The party with the most immediate interest in having structural biases is the government conducting the election. One possible result is the 'show' elections described below.
Some other scholars argue that elections are at most secondary to a functioning democracy. They argue that the rule of law is more important. The rule of law, in its most basic form is the principle that no one is above the law An example would be pre-unification Hong Kong, which was ruled by an unelected British governor but was generally considered to be a free and open society due to its strong legal institutions. Hong Kong ( officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, is a territory located on China 's south coast on the Pearl River Delta, and borders The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain,is a Sovereign state located The Governor of Hong Kong ( abbreviated 港督 was the head of the Hong Kong Government, ex-officio Commander-in-Chief and Vice-Admiral
The question of who may vote is a central issue in elections. Suffrage (from the Latin suffragium, meaning "voting tablet" and figuratively "right to vote" probably from suffrago "hough" and originally The electorate does not generally include the entire population; for example, many countries prohibit those judged mentally incompetent from voting, and all jurisdictions require a minimum age for voting. In American law competence concerns the mental capacity of an individual to participate in legal proceedings
Historically, other groups of people have also been excluded from voting. For instance, the democracy of ancient Athens did not allow women, foreigners, or slaves to vote, and the original United States Constitution left the topic of suffrage to the states; usually only white male property owners were able to vote. The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme Law of the United States. Much of the history of elections involves the effort to promote suffrage for excluded groups. The women's suffrage movement gave women in many countries the right to vote, and securing the right to vote freely was a major goal of the American civil rights movement. The American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968 refers to the reform movements in the United States aimed at abolishing racial discrimination against African Extending the right to vote to other groups which remain excluded in some places (such as convicted felons, members of certain minorities, and the economically disadvantaged) continues to be a significant goal of voting rights advocates. In Common law legal systems a felony is a serious Crime, often contrasted with a Misdemeanor.
Suffrage is typically only for citizens of the country. Further limits may be imposed: for example, in Kuwait, only people who have been citizens since 1920 or their descendants are allowed to vote, a condition that the majority of residents do not fulfill. The State of Kuwait ( دولة الكويت IPA [dawlatt̪ alkuwajt̪]) is a sovereign Arab Emirate on the coast of the Persian Gulf, enclosed However, in the European Union, one can vote in municipal elections if one lives in the municipality and is an EU citizen; the nationality of the country of residence is not required.
In some countries, voting is required by law; if an eligible voter does not cast a vote, he or she may be subject to punitive measures such as a small fine. Compulsory voting requires electors to Vote in Elections or attend a polling place on voting day
Normally there is a citizenship requirement, an age requirement, a residency requirement, and, perhaps, a non-felon requirement. This article deals with personal residence in a given place For other uses see Residency (disambiguation and Resident. Before the Second World War, in most countries, women were not eligible for public office. World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including
Non-partisan systems tend to differ from partisan systems as concerns nominations. In a direct democracy, one type of non-partisan democracy, any eligible person can be nominated. Direct Democracy is a movement within the British Conservative Party dedicated to localism and Constitutional reform as a means of reviving public Non-partisan democracy (also no-party democracy) is a system of representative government or organization such that universal and periodic Elections In some non-partisan representative systems (e. g. , administrative elections of the Bahá'í Faith), no nominations (or campaigning, electioneering, etc. The Bahá'í Faith is a Religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in nineteenth-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind ) take place at all, with voters free to choose any person at the time of voting—with some possible exceptions such as through a minimum age requirement—in the jurisdiction. In such cases, it is not required (or even possible) that the members of the electorate be familiar with all of the eligible persons, though such systems may involve indirect elections at larger geographic levels to ensure that some first-hand familiarity among potential electees can exist at these levels (i. e. , among the elected delegates).
As far as partisan systems, in some countries, only members of a particular political party can be nominated. A political party is a Political organization that seeks to attain and maintain political power within Government, usually by participating in electoral Or, an eligible person can be nominated through a petition; thus allowing him or her to be listed on a ballot. A petition is a request to change some thing most commonly made to a government official or public entity A ballot is a device (originally a small ball—see blackball) used to record choices made by Voters Each voter uses one ballot and ballots are not
The government positions for which elections are held vary depending on the locale. In a representative democracy, such as the United States, some positions are not filled through elections, especially those which are seen as requiring a certain competency or excellence. For example, judges are usually appointed rather than elected to help protect their impartiality. A judge, or justice, is an Official who presides over a Court of law There are exceptions to this practice, however; some judges in the United States are elected, and in ancient Athens military generals were elected. Athens (ˈæθənz Αθήνα Athina,) the Capital and largest city of Greece, dominates the Attica periphery as one of the world's
In some cases, as for example, in soviet democracy—there may exist an intermediate tier of electors between constituents and the elected figure. For the Soviet republics of the Soviet Union see Republics of the Soviet Union. However, in most representative democracies, this level of indirection usually is nothing more than a formality. Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principles of the people's representatives For example, the President of the United States is elected by the Electoral College, and in the Westminster System, the Prime Minister is formally chosen by the head of state (and in reality by the legislature or by their party). The President of the United States is the Head of state and Head of government of the United States and is the highest political official in United States by The Electoral College consists of 538 popularly elected representatives who formally select the President and Vice President of the United States. The Westminster system is a democratic Parliamentary system of Government modelled after the British government (the Parliament of the United This article is about the government position For other uses see Prime Minister (disambiguation. Head of state is the generic term for the individual or collective office that serves as the chief public representative of a Monarchic or Republican Nation-state
In most democratic political systems, there are a range of different types of election, corresponding to different layers of public governance or geographical jurisdiction. Some common types of election are:
A referendum (plural referendums or referenda) is a democratic tool related to elections in which the electorate votes for or against a specific proposal, law or policy, rather than for a general policy or a particular candidate or party. An election is a Decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold formal office A general election is an Election in which all or most members of a given political body are up for election A primary election ( nominating primary) also referred to simply as a primary, is an election in which voters in a Jurisdiction select candidates A by-election or bye-election (called special election in the United States) is an Election held to fill a political office that has become vacant Local Elections vary widely across Jurisdictions In Electoral systems that roughly follow the Westminster model, a terminology has evolved A co-option or more often co-optation is an election where members of a Committee (or similar group vote in order to fill a vacancy on that committee A referendum (plural referendums or referenda) ballot question, or plebiscite (from Latin plebiscita Referendums may be added to an election ballot or held separately and may be either binding or consultative, usually depending on the constitution. A constitution is a system for government often Codified as a written document that establishes the rules and principles of an autonomous political entity Referendums are usually called by governments via the legislature, however many democracies allow citizens to petition for referendums directly, called initiatives. In Political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizen's initiative) provides a means by which a Petition signed by a certain
Referendums are particularly prevalent and important in direct democracies, such as Switzerland. Direct Democracy is a movement within the British Conservative Party dedicated to localism and Constitutional reform as a means of reviving public Switzerland (English pronunciation; Schweiz Swiss German: Schwyz or Schwiiz Suisse Svizzera Svizra officially the Swiss Confederation The basic Swiss system, however, still works with representatives. In the most direct form of democracy, anyone can vote about anything. This is closely related to referendums and may take the form of consensus decision-making. WikipediaConsensus here as this is the article namespace and that information is irrelevant to the reader Reminiscent of the ancient Greek system, anyone may discuss a particular subject until a consensus is reached. The consensus requirement means that discussions can go on for a very long time. The result will be that only those who are genuinely interested will participate in the discussion and therefore the vote. In this system there need not be an age limit because children will usually become bored. This system is however only feasible when implemented on a very small scale.
Electoral systems refer to the detailed constitutional arrangements and voting systems which convert the vote into a determination of which individuals and political parties are elected to positions of power. A voting system allows voters to choose between options often in an Election where candidates are selected for public office.
The first step is to tally the votes, for which various different vote counting systems and ballot types are used. There exist various methods through which the Ballots cast at an Election may be counted prior to applying a Voting system to obtain one or more winners A ballot is a device (originally a small ball—see blackball) used to record choices made by Voters Each voter uses one ballot and ballots are not Voting systems then determine the result on the basis of the tally. Most systems can be categorized as either proportional or majoritarian. Proportional representation (sometimes referred to as full representation or PR is a category of electoral formula aiming at a close match between the percentage of votes A majoritarian electoral system is one which is based on a "winner take all" principle Among the former are party-list proportional representation and additional member system. Party-list proportional representation systems are a family of Voting systems used in multiple-winner Elections (e The Additional Member System (AMS is a branch of Voting systems in which some representatives are elected from geographic constituencies and others are elected under Among the latter are First Past the Post (FPP) (relative majority) and absolute majority. The plurality voting system is a Single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member An absolute majority or majority of the entire membership (in American English, a Supermajority Voting requirement is a Voting basis Many countries have growing electoral reform movements, which advocate systems such as approval voting, single transferable vote, instant runoff voting or a Condorcet method; these methods are also gaining popularity for lesser elections in some countries where more important elections still use more traditional counting methods. Approval voting is a single-winner voting system used for Elections Each voter may vote for (approve of as many of the candidates as they wish Single transferable vote (STV is a preferential Voting system designed to minimize Wasted votes and provide Proportional representation Instant-runoff voting ( IRV) is a Voting system used for single-winner elections in which voters have one vote and rank Candidates in order of A Condorcet method is any single-winner election method that meets the Condorcet criterion, that is which always selects the Condorcet winner, the candidate
While openness and accountability are usually considered cornerstones of a democratic system, the act of casting a vote and the content of a voter's ballot are usually an important exception. Accountability is a concept in Ethics with several meanings It is often used synonymously with such concepts as answerability enforcement responsibility, blameworthiness The secret ballot is a relatively modern development, but it is now considered crucial in most free and fair elections, as it limits the effectiveness of intimidation. The secret ballot is a voting method in which a Voter 's choices are confidential
The nature of democracy is that elected officials are accountable to the people, and they must return to the voters at prescribed intervals to seek their mandate to continue in office. In Politics, a mandate is the Authority granted by an Electorate to act as its representative. For that reason most democratic constitutions provide that elections are held at fixed regular intervals. In the United States, elections are held between every three and six years in most states, with exceptions such as the U. S. House of Representatives, which stands for election every two years. The United States House of Representatives is one of the two chambers of the United States Congress; the other is the Senate. There is a variety of schedules, for example presidents: the President of Ireland is elected every seven years, the President of Finland every six years, the President of France every five years, the President of Russia and President of United States every four years. The President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann n̪ˠə ˈheːɾʲən̪ˠ is the Head of state of Ireland. The President of Finland is the Head of State of Finland. Under the Constitution of Finland, executive power is vested in the President and the The President of the French Republic (Président de la République française colloquially referred to in English as the President of France, is France 's elected The President of Russia (Президент России or the President of the Russian Federation, Президент Российской The President of the United States is the Head of state and Head of government of the United States and is the highest political official in United States by
Pre-determined or fixed election dates have the advantage of fairness and predictability. However, they tend to greatly lengthen campaigns, and make dissolving the legislature (parliamentary system) more problematic if the date should happen to fall at time when dissolution is inconvenient (e. In Parliamentary systems a dissolution of parliament is the dispersal of a Legislature at the call of an Election. g. when war breaks out). Other states (e. g. , the United Kingdom) only set maximum time in office, and the executive decides exactly when within that limit it will actually go to the polls. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain,is a Sovereign state located In practice, this means the government will remain in power for close to its full term, and choose an election date which it calculates to be in its best interests (unless something special happens, such as a motion of no-confidence). A motion of no confidence (also vote of no confidence, censure motion, no-confidence motion, or confidence motion) is a Parliamentary motion This calculation depends on a number of variables, such as its performance in opinion polls and the size of its majority.
Elections are usually held on one day. There are also advance polls and absentee voting, which have a more flexible schedule. Early voting, is the process which voters can cast their vote on a single or series of days prior to an election An absentee ballot is a Vote cast by someone who is unable or unwilling to attend the official Polling station. In Europe, a substantial proportion of votes are cast in advance voting.
When elections are called, politicians and their supporters attempt to influence policy by competing directly for the votes of constituents in what are called campaigns. A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group Supporters for a campaign can be either formally organized or loosely affiliated, and frequently utilize campaign advertising. In Politics, campaign advertising is the use of paid media (newspapers radio television etc
In many countries with weak rule of law, the most common reason why elections do not meet international standards of being "free and fair" is interference from the incumbent government. Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an Election. The rule of law, in its most basic form is the principle that no one is above the law Dictators may use the powers of the executive (police, martial law, censorship, physical implementation of the election mechanism, etc. A dictator is an Authoritarian ruler (eg Absolutist or autocratic) who assumes sole and absolute power without hereditary ascension such as an Absolute ) to remain in power despite popular opinion in favor of removal. Members of a particular faction in a legislature may use the power of the majority or supermajority (passing criminal laws, defining the electoral mechanisms including eligibility and district boundaries) to prevent the balance of power in the body from shifting to a rival faction due to an election.
Non-governmental entities can also interfere with elections, through physical force, verbal intimidation, or fraud which results in improper casting or counting of votes.
Monitoring for and minimizing electoral fraud is also an ongoing task in countries with strong traditions of free and fair elections.
Problems which prevent an election from being "free and fair" can occur at several different stages: