Beyond Ballot Boxes - The Ultimate Voting Resource Guide
Voting is one of the most popular ways of electing people into power. People who vote express their opinions on the candidates they think can excellently manage the positions they are vying for. Countries where voting is practiced usually have a democratic government. These countries have rules that must be adhered to before the right to vote (suffrage) is exercised.
HISTORY OF SUFFRAGE
Suffrage simply means the civil right to vote. In the early stages of America’s democracy, the right to vote was enjoyed by men who held recognized positions or those who were privileged by their race, economic status, social importance and more. Women were also denied the opportunity to vote or contest for political offices. However, this is no longer the norm as it is now obvious that women and African Americans can now contest and share equal rights with others.
Some of the types of suffrage are universal suffrage and women’s suffrage. Universal suffrage is the franchise given to every adult who is a citizen of the country. However, the adult must be a responsible citizen and mentally sound. Universal suffrage first began in the Corsican Republic in 1755. In Europe, it was first recognized by Finland in 1906. Women’s suffrage grants women the right to vote or contest for offices with men at the same time. This began when Lydia Taft became the first woman to cast her vote in America during the British rule.
Political parties play important roles in sustaining democracy in the United States. The history of political parties in the country can be traced to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Today, there are several parties and each of them has its own political viewpoints to make the democracy very strong and interesting. Some of them are the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green Party and Constitution Party.
The Democratic Party
The Democratic Party was created between 1824 and 1828 but it existed prior to this under a different name. The basic viewpoint of the party is the need to affect the citizens positively by concentrating on economic matters that favor everybody. Presidents from the Democratic Party include John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. In all, fourteen presidents have emerged from the party between 1828 and 2008. The donkey is used as the symbol of the party.
The Republican Party
The Republican Party was created in 1855. At the time of its creation, it became the strongest opposition to the Democratic Party. One of the major achievements of the party was the abolition of slavery. The Republicans believe that the government should be more concerned with the private affairs of the citizens. The first person to be elected president from the party was Abraham Lincoln.
This party was created on the 11th of December, 1971. The motto of the party describes their point of view “As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others”. Perhaps, this viewpoint also explains why the Liberty Party was the first to issue a ticket to a woman as a political aspirant. Though the party is not as strong as the Democratic and Republican, more than 140 Libertarians have held strategic positions in the country. The Libertarians believe that any government established must support the freedom of the citizens.
The Green Party was formed in 2001 from various green party state organizations. Members of the Green Party are concerned about the safety of the environment. Hence, they try to avoid the use of fossil fuels, deforestation and any other activity that can cause pollution and imbalance in the climate. They also advocate improved health care facilities and the right for affordable medical treatment. Members of the party also insist that the living wage of workers should be high so that the standard of living can be improved.
The Constitution Party is another third party in the US. The party has a slogan, “Forging a Rebirth of Freedom”. Members of the party believe that the United States should re-adopt the principles that were laid by the founding fathers of America’s democracy. They also believe that the country should discontinue with the use of the Internal Revenue Service by replacing it with a “fair tax” system. Finally, the Constitution Party does not believe in wars or world policing except if doing so will be beneficial to the safety of the citizens.
UNDERSTANDING HOW THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE WORKS
The Electoral College is a group of people known as the electors. The electors are representatives or those who have been elected by the people to elect the president and the vice president in the United Sates. The Electoral College came into existence with the original plan of the US democratic system. The group consists of 538 members and for any person to emerge as president or vice president; he must obtain a minimum of 270 electoral votes.
HELPFUL RESOURCES FOR VOTERS
OTHER VOTING AND ELECTION RESOURCES