CHAT: American government (was: browsers)
|From:||John Cowan <cowan@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, February 11, 2003, 14:06|
> How do they force an absolute majority? If there are there candidates
> and one wins 15%, one 40% and the other 45%, there's no absolute
> majority. I thought you did first-past-the-post?
Not in this case. If no candidate gets an absolute majority of
electoral votes, the entire election results are thrown out, and the
House of Representatives elects the President, with the members of
each state receiving one joint vote. This has only happened twice.
If no candidate receives an absolute majority in the House, they keep
balloting until someone does.
Such elections have only happened twice, and given the fact that we have
effectively only two parties, are most unlikely to happen again (barring
a 50-50 split in the 538 electoral votes). No third-party candidate
has gotten more than 1 electoral vote (due to rebellious or brain-dead
electors -- one of whom actually swapped his votes for President and Vice
President! -- not to genuine election results) since 1968.
Theoretically the Vice President has since 1800 been elected in exactly
the same way as the President, except that non-majority elections go to
the Senate rather than the House (perhaps because the V.P. is ex officio
presiding officer of the Senate). This also has happened twice. In
practice the V.P. is chosen by the President before the election,
generally comes from a different part of the country ("balancing the
ticket"), and is not a position that anybody actively *wants* as a rule.
When the first Congress was trying to decide on the President's title, they
considered "His Elective Majesty" among others; Washington parodied this effort
by calling his V.P. "His Superfluous Excellency". In the end, the titles
adopted were simply "Mr. President" and "Mr. Vice President".
Nitty-gritty details at
On mayors: American cities typically have elected mayors and city councils.
Sometimes the mayor has the most power, sometimes the council, sometimes
power is pretty evenly divided. In some cities, however, there is only a
council which then elects a professional administrator (usually called the
"city manager"). City managers seem to be particularly common in California
John Cowan email@example.com www.ccil.org/~cowan www.reutershealth.com
"If he has seen farther than others,
it is because he is standing on a stack of dwarves."
--Mike Champion, describing Tim Berners-Lee (adapted)