USA US, Contradictions and the Framework of the Electoral Process

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Havana (Prensa Latina) During the electoral process, the names of Jo Jorgensen and Howie Hawkins may be unknown to a large part of the U.S. electorate, when elections are to take place on November 3.

However, like Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, those two figures are candidates for the presidency of the northern nation, for the Libertarian and Green parties, respectively, and they are part of a list made up of dozens of candidates.

In spite of that, only Trump, the current president of the country, and Biden, monopolize practically all the headlines and appear with real possibilities of winning at the polls, protected by the history of their political formations and a powerful propaganda and monetary machine.

Jorgensen and Hawkins, on the other hand, are the best positioned contenders among the other candidates for the White House, to the point that the former will appear on the ballot in all the territories of the country, and the latter in those of some thirty states, while in another 16 he will be a candidate on paper.

In addition to the Libertarian and Green Party nominees, 10 other candidates will appear on ballots that would give them access to more than 15 of the electoral votes cast in the United States in each presidential election, including Gloria La Riva of the Socialism and Liberation Party; Alyson Kennedy of the Socialist Workers Party; and independent Brock Pierce.

Regardless of the agendas, similarities or differences among the candidates for the highest office in the country, it will be Trump and Biden who will obtain almost all of the 538 electoral votes that will be at stake in the elections.

To become president of the United States, 270 is the magic number: that is the number of electoral votes a candidate needs to receive in order to reach the White House, in a voting process that is not direct, but second degree.

This means that when a voter goes to the polls, his or her ballot does not go directly to the candidate of one of the parties, but to 538 voters from the 50 states and Washington DC.

In fact, on several occasions the person who was appointed president did not have the majority of the population’s support, most recently in 2016, when Trump obtained some three million fewer popular votes than the then Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, but received 304 electoral votes, compared to 227 from her rival.

Such characteristics of the U.S. elections lead the current president and his rival of the blue force to aim with surgical precision and millions of dollars, not at the 50 states of the nation, but at a group of territories that could be decisive.

Moreover, these particularities have an impact on the low turnout that elections tend to generate, as evidenced, for example, by the fact that only 55 percent of citizens able to vote did so in 2016.

According to the Vox website, this has to do with factors such as the fact that many voters do not go to the polls because they do not identify with either of the two main parties, or because they live in states where their vote does not carry any real weight.

As The Washington Post recalled after the 2016 elections, the Electoral College system was designed to favor sparsely populated areas of the country and was created to strengthen the agrarian elite, offer more federal power to slave states and counteract factionalism and polarization.

The media warned, however, that it does not currently perform these functions, but instead places more value on the votes of some voters over those of others, while completely disenfranchising the four million Americans living in overseas territories.

According to the newspaper, the Electoral College distorts the popular vote because small states gain more power than populous ones.

Each of these jurisdictions has the same number of electoral votes as members of Congress, and the less populous territories always receive at least three votes – because they all have at least two senators and one representative – while the more populous face an upper limit, regardless of their number of inhabitants since the number of seats in the lower house does not increase.

Thus, the least populated state, Wyoming, with 586,000 residents, gets three electoral votes, while the most populous state, California (39 million people) receives 55, which means that each individual vote in the first of these places “weighs 3.6 times more than the vote of a Californian.

In addition, since almost all the territories give their electoral votes in a way that the winner takes them all, the elections are usually decided in the so-called undecided, pendulous or hinge states, in which the candidate of any of the two main parties can win.

This led, for example, to the fact that in 2016, 95 percent of contenders’ events and 99 percent of campaign expenses were concentrated in 14 states, a trend that continues this year, when Trump and Biden are focusing their efforts on territories such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Both rivals are in those waters during an election campaign already ranked as the most expensive in history, with spending in the current race expected to reach $5.2 billion, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics.

With such a web invariably repeating itself in the U.S. electoral system, the chances of third-party presidential candidates or independents having any say in the election are remote, and the equation, once again, boils down to the two well-established forces of the political establishment.

(Taken from PL)

 

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