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U.S. Political System and Voting

Resources you need to make informed decisions at in the voting booth.

Weekend Elections Not the Answer, GAO Reports
People who contend that moving Election Day to a weekend would increase voter turnout are probably wrong, according to the Government Accountability Office, which says weekend elections would actually create new problems.

New State Voting Laws May Affect More Than 5 Million
A new report shows that more than 5 million Americans may find it harder or even impossible to cast ballots in the 2012 election due to new state voting laws enacted since 2008.

Electoral Votes by State in 2012
Which states have the presidential power? Read the list of Electoral College votes by state.

The Supermajority Vote
Defines supermajority votes in U.S. government and politics, and explains when they are required and by what authority.

Elections? Decided by Voters?
U.S. Rep. Dan Boren proposes a constitutional amendment intended to reduce the influence of outside money in House and Senate elections.

Why Keep the Electoral College?
Why the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College system for presidential elections and reasons for retaining it now.

Most Conservative Congressmen
Find out who is ranked among the most conservative congressmen in the United States. Read brief biographies of each of the most conservative congressmen. See a slideshow of the most conservative congressmen.

Voter Registration: Just Mail it In
How to use the national mail-in voter registration form authorized by the “motor voter” law.

Can You Really Trademark a Name?
Find out whether it's possible to trademark a name. See why Sarah Palin filed paperwork to trademark a name. Read an explanation of how the government views requests to trademark a name. Learn about the legal issues surrounding attempts to trademark a name.

Presidential Debate Schedule in 2012 White House Race
Find out the presidential debate schedule for 2011 and 2012. See when Republican candidates seeking to unseat President Barack Obama face off in their first presidential debate. Discover who is holding a presidential debate and where their presidential debate is taking place.

Biggest Losers - List of the Biggest Losers of 2010 in Government and Politics
Biggest Losers - List of the Biggest Losers of 2010 in Government and Politics

Palin Mistakenly Urges U.S. to Side With North Korea
Read a transcript of Sarah Palin's comments on North Korea. See why critics pounced on Sarah Palin's comments on North Korea. Learn about Sarah Palin's comments on North Korea earlier in the interview. Discover why Sarah Palin's comments on North Korea were a mistake and not a lack of knowledge.

Sarah Palin Gabrielle Giffords Controversy
Read about the Sarah Palin Gabrielle Giffords controversy. Find out why Sarah Palin included Gabrielle Giffords on a target list of House members. See how Sarah Palin responded to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting. Discover why Sarah Palin was criticized and defended after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting.

Have You Spoken Out?
Letting your opinions be known at a public meeting of you local government is exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created our nation’s “participatory democracy.” Tell us about your experience. What kind of meeting did you attend? What issue did you speak on? Do you feel your appearance was effective and what advice do you have for others considering speaking at a… See submissions

Would You Rather Vote on Saturday?
The argument has often been made that since more Americans have the "day off" on Saturday than on Tuesdays, holding presidential elections on Saturday would allow and encourage more people to vote. Is that right, or would holding elections on Saturdays simply create a different set of excuses for not voting?

Bad Ballots Cause Bad Elections
Several things can be done -- accidentally or intentionally -- in designing ballots to actually influence the outcome of elections, disenfranchise certain groups of voters or both.

Election Day: Why We Vote When We Vote
Find out why all federal elections are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Obama and McCain on Campaign Finance Reform
Where do the presumed candidates in the 2008 presidential election, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), stand on campaign finance reform? Predictably, in much the same place.

Meeting with Your Members of Congress
While more difficult than sending them a letter, visiting your Members of Congress, or their staff, face-to-face is the most effective way to actually influence them. Individuals and groups can arrange personal meetings with Senators and Representatives either in their Washington offices, or in their local offices at various times during the...

Election Day Guide
You've registered to vote, studied the candidates and issues, and finally decided how you want to vote. So here it is, election day, and you still have some questions about the basic act of exercising your right to vote. What happens at the polls? What if you make a mistake? How will your vote be counted, and why do so many people fail to vote? Get the answers to these and more election day questions.

Registering to Vote
In most places, you must register before you can vote. What is voter registration, how do you register to vote, and why is it important that you keep your voter registration current? Learn more about voter registration.

About the Mid-term Congressional Elections
Congressional elections are held every two years. Coming halfway through a president's four year term in office, the congressional elections are also called "mid-term" elections. Learn more about the mid-term congressional elections.

Few Voters Changed Minds During 2004 Campaign: Survey
Do political campaigns change minds? Rarely, according to the National Annenberg Election survey, which showed that very few American voters changed their minds during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Feinstein Will Move to Abolish Electoral College
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) has announced that she will introduce legislation to abolish the Electoral College system and provide for direct popular election of the President and Vice President when the Senate convenes for the 109th Congress in January.

Turnout of Under-25 Voters Rose Sharply in 2004
Data released by the Pew Charitable Trust shows that the turnout rate of 18-24 year old voters in the 2004 presidential election rose by 5.8 percent, as 1.8 million more people in this age group voted than in 2000.

Bush Picks Gonzales to Replace Ashcroft as Attorney General
President Bush today announced his nomination of White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales to replace John Ashcroft as Attorney General in his second-term Cabinet. If confirmed by the Senate, Gonzales would become the first Hispanic to serve as Attorney General.

What If the Presidential Election Is a Tie?
People ask lots of questions about the U.S. Constitution, most of them starting with, "What if...?" Here's a good one: "What if... the Electoral College vote is a tie?" What if the 538 Electors sit down after the election and vote to a 269 to 269 tie?

Counting the Votes
After the last voter has left the polling place, how do they count all those votes and how do they make sure the votes are counted accurately and fairly?

People At the Polls
When voters walk into a busy polling place on election day, they see a vast array of people, most of them rushing around, doing lots of different things. Who are these people and what is their function in the election?

If You Make a Mistake While Voting
With all the different types of voting machines now in use across the United States, voters often make mistakes while voting. What happens if you change your mind while voting, or you accidentally vote for the wrong candidate?

Election Day Guide
Clearly, the main thing to do on election day is vote. Unfortunately, voting can often be a confusing process. Here is a brief guide designed to answer some common election day questions. Where do you vote? When do you vote? What should you bring to the polls? What are your rights as a voter?

Survey Shows Why Many Americans Fail to Vote in Elections
Why do so many qualified Americans choose not to vote? Let's ask them. The California Voter Foundation (CVF) has released the results of a statewide survey on the attitudes of infrequent voters and citizens eligible to vote but not registered. The first-of-its-kind survey sheds new light on the incentives and barriers to voting, along with the...

Eight States Could Decide 2004 Election
Even as the daily polls waffle from Bush to Kerry and back, it appears the 2004 presidential election will come down to the winning, or losing, of a mere 99 electoral votes in only eight states.

Profile of Young Voters in 2004
With the 2004 presidential elections just weeks away, there are unprecedented efforts to turn out young voters and indications that they are paying closer attention to the campaigns than they have in years. But who are these young voters? What’s different this election year? What do they care about? Whom are they supporting? What are the trends related to young voters?

How Kids Saw the Debate: Weekly Reader
Millions of viewers watched last night's Presidential debate. Among those paying particularly close attention to the first Bush vs. Kerry showdown were five teen reporters who were selected by Weekly Reader, the renowned 102-year-old student publication.

Federal Employees Accused of Hatch Act Violations
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has filed two similar complaints for disciplinary action against Federal employees for sending politically partisan electronic mail messages while on duty, in violation of the Hatch Act.

About PACs - Political Action Committees
Love them or hate them, PACs have become an important and influential part of U.S. politics. What kind of PACs are there and what rules must they follow

U.S. Teachers Want Candidates tp Promise Change to No Child Left Behind Act
What do U.S. public school teachers want to hear from the presidential candidates? Mainly, that sweeping changes will be made to provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

2004 Presidential Campaign Contributions by Social Issue
We know the Bush campaign leads the Kerry camp in campaign contributions from industrial sectors, but what about contributions from individuals who feel strongly about certain social issues, like abortion, gun control, and women's issues? Here are the figures through July 5.

2004 Presidential Campaign Contributions by Industry
2004 Presidential campaign contributions to George W. Bush (R) and John Kerry (D) by industrial sector.

2004 Democratic Convention Speakers List
The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) has released a preliminary list of primetime speakers for the 2004 Democratic National Convention, held July 26-29 in Boston. The following speakers -- listed alphabetically by day -- will all address the Convention between 7 pm and 11 pm:

Money 'Bundlers' Raising Bundles for Both Candidates
The Bush and Kerry campaigns raised an all-time high $414 million during the primaries, much of it through more than 1,000 corporate executives, lawyers, lobbyists and other wealthy special interests who employ "bundling," or combining large number of individual contributions for the candidate of their choice.

Had Clinical Chemistry Existed in 1776, We Might Not be Voting
Getting all excited about the presidential elections? Well, consider this: new research suggests that the U.S. may never have rebelled against Mother England in 1776 if King George III could have been treated for a blood-related mental disorder.

Fox News: 'Fair and Balanced' or 'Fox for Bush?'
In a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), political interest group MoveOn.org claims that Fox News Channel's (FNC) use of the phrase "Fair and Balanced" represents false and deceptive advertising, because the network presents programming that is "deliberately and consistently distorted and twisted to promote the Republican Party of the U.S. and an extreme rightwing viewpoint."

Married People More Likely to Support Bush
Married persons are more likely to be supportive of President Bush and Republicans than singles, according to the National Annenberg Election survey. According to the survey, people who do not live with a spouse are considerably more liberal and critical of Bush than are married Americans.

Political Fundraising Up 62 Percent Over 2000
Political fundraising for the 2004 presidential election is running some 62 percent ahead of the 2000 race through the end of may, according to the Campaign Funding Institute (CFI).

Political Conventions Day-by-Day
Although the presidential nominations have largely been settled during the primary/caucus cycle in recent elections, the national party conventions continue to be an important part of the American political system. As you watch the convention this year, here's what's happing on each of the four days.

2004 Election Third Party Candidates
They won't win, but they could decide who does. Links to the Websites of several third party presidential candidates.

"Persuadable" Voters Not Impressed with Bush or Kerry
And now begins the political courting of the "persuadables" - the 11 percent of American voters who still don't know which, if either, presidential candidate they will vote for in November. The persuadables are, of course the real target of any political campaign, and in 2004, the persuadables are more critical of the economy and the situation in Iraq and less impressed with either George W. Bush or John Kerry than the electorate generally.

Good Old Fashioned Conventions
Not finding much suspense in this year's major political party conventions? Well, politics isn't always a party. Thanks largely to the modern state primary election system, major party conventions have become about as exciting as watching the Electoral College vote. It wasn't always like this. Take the 1860 conventions, for example.

2004 Political Fundraising Headed for Record Levels
To the surprise of just about nobody, the 2004 presidential election fundraising effort appears to be well on the way to setting new records.

The Electoral College System
Every fourth November, after almost two years of campaign hype and money, over 90 million Americans for the presidential candidates. Then, in the middle of December, the president and vice president of the United States are really elected by the votes of only 538 citizens -- the "electors" of the Electoral College.

Voter Information Resources
Resources for making informed decisions before you pull the lever.

Why We Have Third Parties
Whether their candidates win or not, America's third political parties are important and here's why.

About the Primary - Caucus - Convention System
Every four years, along come -- Primaries, Caucuses, Delegates and Conventions -- the U.S. presidential election. How do these key processes of American democracy work? How are our presidential candidates chosen? Read the basics here.

Why Keep the Electoral College?
America’s Founding Fathers had valid reasons for taking unlimited power to elect the president out of the people’s hands with the Electoral College. Find out what those reasons were and why they remain just as valid today as they were in 1787. From your About Guide.

Election Information for Your State
When are your state’s presidential primaries or caucuses? When is your state’s deadline to register to vote? Who are your state’s Electors in the Electoral College? Learn the answers to these and more election-related questions at your state’s elections office.

Of Primary Importance
Here come the presidential primaries. How many times do we have to vote for president, anyway? Why can't we just go to the polls once in November and be done with it? What's so important about the primaries?

Why We Vote When We Vote
Of course, every day is a good day to exercise our freedom, but why do we always vote on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November?

The 17 Best Reasons to Vote
As a fitting tribute to the sailors who died on the USS Cole, how about contributing tothe best voter turnout in American history on November 7th?

Political Campaign Contribution Laws for Individuals
By November of 1999 the twelve top candidates for President 2000 had raised over $144 million. Find out how much you can legally contribute to the candidate of your choice.

Why We have a House and Senate
Why do we have two chambers in Congress, the House and Senate? Since members of both are elected by, and represent the people, wouldn't the lawmaking process be more efficient if bills were considered by only one body? From your About Guide.

Voting Mad -- Which issue will most influence your vote in the 2010 m…
Lots of voters will be "voting mad" in this November’s mid-term election. Health care reform, immigration policy, the Gulf Coast oil disaster, the economy – just a few of the issues expected to send Americans to the polls in record numbers. How about you? Which one issue will most influence your vote this fall and why?

11 Great Websites to Help You Keep an Eye on the Federal Government
Refer to this list of links for federal government information online. Learn about websites that provide federal government information online. Find out about federal programs and grant money available online.

The 4-Letter Word Sarah Palin Didn't Say
Read about the controversy over Sarah Palin on Fox News. See what Sarah Palin said about Fox News. Find out why Sarah Palin suggested Christine...

The National Popular Vote Plan
How the National Popular Vote plan would modify the Electoral College system to ensure the Presidency to the winner of the nationwide popular vote.

All About Hippie Punching
Find out what the term hippie punching means. See how the phrase hippie punching is used in American politics. Learn about allegations of hippie...

The Ballot Initiative Process
Ballot initiatives are an example of direct democracy in the United States, in which citizens may propose legislative measures or amendments to state constitutions.

Direct Democracy
Direct democracy, sometimes called "pure democracy," is a form of democracy in which the people themselves, rather than elected representatives, determine the laws and policies by which they are governed.

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