Elections

  • 04.16.18

    Unaffiliated Primary Voters

    Almost half (46%) of Americans are independents. Yet, many voters are barred from participating in primary contests due to their party affiliation or lack thereof. The Sanders Institute and founding fellow Senator Nina Turner explain why unaffiliated voters are disenfranchised in many states across the country....

    Almost half (46%) of Americans are independents. Yet, many voters are barred from participating in primary contests due to their party affiliation or lack thereof. 

    The Sanders Institute and founding fellow Senator Nina Turner explain why unaffiliated voters are disenfranchised in many states across the country.

  • 09.23.15

    Gerrymandering: How Politicians Rig Elections

    This video from Vox looks at gerrymandering in the United States. It begins with a description that "the way elections are supposed to work is voters choose their politicians but in America politicians often get to choose their voters." The United States has 435 electoral districts, and those districts need to be...

    This video from Vox looks at gerrymandering in the United States.

    It begins with a description that "the way elections are supposed to work is voters choose their politicians but in America politicians often get to choose their voters."

    The United States has 435 electoral districts, and those districts need to be drawn and re-drawn based on changing populations. Unfortunately, in most states politicians draw the district lines and "the results are totally predictable": state legislators can create districts that favor their party. 

    North Carolina is used as an example of this situation - Democrats received over 50% of the house votes in 2012, but won only four house seats to the Republican's nine. This is due to district lines that "cluster the state's Democrats together into only a few districts with huge majorities" whereas the state's Republicans are spread out in more districts with slimmer majorities.

    The video ends by describing that there is an alternative to partisan gerrymandering and gives Canada's electoral system as an example where they use independent commissions to draw district lines. 

  • 11.01.12

    The Electoral College Explained

    This video from Ted-Ed explains the electoral college system in the U.S. In the United States, the public does not elect the President and Vice President directly. Instead, when a majority of voters in a state vote for a certain candidate, that candidate receives that state's electoral college votes. The electoral...

    This video from Ted-Ed explains the electoral college system in the U.S.

    In the United States, the public does not elect the President and Vice President directly. Instead, when a majority of voters in a state vote for a certain candidate, that candidate receives that state's electoral college votes. The electoral college is "a group of people appointed by each state who formally elect the President and Vice President of the United States." 

    The number of electors is equal to the total voting membership of the house of representative (435) and the senate (100) with three extra delegates from Washington D.C. Each state receives a particular number of electoral college votes based on their population size.  States with small populations like Vermont receive 3 electoral college votes, while states with larger populations receive many more; California receives 55 electoral college votes.  Traditionally, candidates receive all the electoral college votes when they win that state.

    When candidates run for the presidency, they try to "add up the electors in every state" to reach over half of the electors with 270 electoral college votes.

    Supporters of the electoral college say that it gives smaller states power because candidates cannot completely ignore them. However, the electoral college can sometimes lead to situations where a candidate can win the popular vote but lose the electoral college - as has happened in the 2000 and 2016 elections.