Elections are the core of any democratic system. It is through elections that citizens get to exercise their right to choose their own leader to represent them in government (Andrea, 2021). There are rules and regulations that govern the election process. These affect those who run, candidates in an election, and how a winner is declared. Election affairs, especially in candidature, are considered a preserve of the rich because running for elections is expensive. This tends to discourage participation in the poor communities, to not participate in the elections. Due to this, some state governments have begun programs aimed at encouraging people from minority communities to increase their participation in the election and election affairs. One such state is Seattle, which introduced the Democracy Voucher Program of 2015. One of the ways candidates raise funds is through donations from supporters. In this voucher program, the country sent four $ 25 cheques for citizens to use to donate to their candidates. On top of succeeding in increasing participation, it has led to the emerging of new types of candidates, thanks to the donations that enable more people to vie for political positions. Election laws have also been relaxed to encourage voter turnout in many states.
The will to participate in elections is motivated by affiliation to a particular candidate, and the desire to see them win. Many people tend to think that participation in elections is all about just voting. Political participation involves attending political rallies and events, attending party fundraisers, and contributing money towards campaigns, contacting candidates, working on behalf of candidates, displaying campaign signs and philosophies, and singing political petitions. Taking part in protests, demonstrations and strikes are also forms of political participation. Different reasons push the various demographic groups to participate in the election process (Hill, 2019). Since we are living in a digital age, online campaigns have also become an important aspect of election campaigns, because a majority of the population today is of young people, who are mostly on online platforms.in elections, people of higher social economic status tend to be more involved in the political process than those of lower status. Younger people tend to lack interest in the political process, more older adults vote as compared to their younger counterparts. African Americans have been deprived of their right to vote for the longest time, but due to the rigorous civil rights movements, they can now vote. However, poverty remains a barrier to voting among the ones from lower social-economic status. Education status among the whites influences voting, as most of the whites with degrees tend to vote Democrat, while those without vote Republican. This is however changing, as depicted during the Trump era. In the case of Latinos and Latinas, most do not vote, but when they do, they vote as a block. Similarly, the Asian American population. Women also participate in elections but are most likely to vote Democrat, while the men vote Republican. The churches today provide an important platform for political mobilization. The church usually supports the Republican party ideologies.
As earlier mentioned, the election process is governed by rules and regulations, that ensure a fair process that is binding and acceptable to all participating parties. Presidential elections take place every four years, while congressional elections take place every two years. The congressional don’t coincide with presidential elections and are known as midterm elections. The process of the election begins with the nomination of a candidate. This is done through party primaries, or through the caucus. The caucus involves business meetings where influential people decide to come together and pick one candidate. After the candidate is selected, they go through a campaign period, then the general election. Citizens vote, then the electoral college goes to elect a president. One of the biggest barriers to voter turnout is the state electoral laws. The government tries to remove these barriers through electoral law reforms. To identify as a voter, in many states’ identification is required, which limits racial minorities who encounter challenges obtaining government documents. Voting is done through balloting and the mailing system.
Candidates woe and rally their supporters through campaigns, where they state the agendas they have for the people. Voters align themselves with the agendas that seem to have the potential to make their lives better. The power and effects of campaigns to elections outcome can never be quantified, but campaigns give voters and candidates a chance to interact. Campaigns give the candidates the opportunity to articulate their agendas to their supporters directly (Barret, 2021). One of the biggest challenges of the campaign is funding. Candidates achieve this through fundraising and donations from well-wishers. However, candidates are also allowed to fund their own campaigns with their own money. The types of election campaigns include grassroots and mass media campaigns. The grassroots involve the candidates physically going to the people directly and engaging one on one with the people on community levels. Mass media campaigns are the use of digital media and social media to drive up advertising of candidates. This type of campaign has continued to grow especially now as most of the young generation spend most of their lives online. It is easiest to appeal to this age group through the digital and social media spaces.
There are many factors that influence a voter to vote for a particular candidate (Lee, 2020). Three factors stand out, partisan loyalty, issues preferences, and the personality of a candidate. Partisan politics is where voters are loyal to a party and will only vote for a candidate who has been filled by their party. Parties usually enjoy this support as once they get it, they rarely lose it, unless party crises tear this down. Many issues such as health care, climate change, funding college education, economics issues, and foreign policy. The candidate’s stand on these issues affecting most of the population will determine how people will vote for them. personally, identifying attributes of a candidate, such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, social-economic background, and geography plays a huge role in influencing a voter’s decision. Just as some of these factors attract voters, they may also drive away other voters.
The 2020 election was one of the most polarizing elections in American history (Starks, 2021). It was a unique election in the circumstances around which the elections were held. The covid-19 virus started affecting people in the spring of 2020. Most of the Democratic governors were accused of not doing enough to protect the public from the virus. Trump focused on projects to mass-produce vaccinations and protective gears for the citizens. Democrats criticized the response of the Trump administration. Then came the rise in the killing of the black minority by police. Most popular, the killing of George Floyd, which sparked countrywide protests. President Trump supported the police actions and supported them by deploying the federal forces. The democrats called this a cause to further deteriorate the situation. The result of this was the Democrats retaining control of the House of Representatives, while the Republicans control the Senate. This election led to deep partisan polarization. The 2020 elections had the highest voter turnout in the history of American elections. Party line voting continues to be a key factor in voting for the republican supporters.
On the time website, the article `Caught in crisis and confusion’ of November 12, 2020 talks about the outcome of the presidential election. Fox and the associated press had called Biden president-elect by November 7, as they declared the margins between the two could not be mathematically reduced as vote counting was coming to an end. Trump had however refused to concede. This was beginning to put the transition process in jeopardy. Trump was unwilling to begin the transition process because he believed the elections were marred with irregularities. On the other side, Biden and his people had begun to prepare themselves to take over the office. The biggest challenge in the 2020 election was the use of the mailing system to vote. The republicans were most likely to vote in person while the democrats mostly voted with the introduction of the mailing system. Trump viewed this system as open to manipulation and irregularities. The mailing votes were mostly for Biden, and this played a huge role in the difference in votes count for the two candidates. Trump caused a crisis as he was unwilling to let smooth transition, as he held the powers to key instruments of power that required to begin the transition to Biden. This caused a section of the public who supported Trump to believe that the systems of voting were tampered with to favor Biden to become president.
Barrett, B. (2021). Commercial Companies in Party Networks: Digital Advertising Firms in US Elections from 2006-2016. Political Communication, 1-19.
Benjamin Ginsberg, Theodore Lowi, Margaret, Caroline Tolbert, Andrea Campbell, Robert Spitzer. (2021) We the people: an introduction to American politics. W.W. Norton and Company. CHAPTER 9
Hill, S. J., Hopkins, D. J., & Huber, G. A. (2019). Local demographic changes and US presidential voting, 2012 to 2016. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(50), 25023-25028.
Lee, H. (2020). Voters’ involvement, attitude, and confidence in the era of new media. Palgrave Communications, 6(1), 1-7.
Starks, B. (2021). The double pandemic: Covid-19 and white supremacy.