Electoral Systems Essay

Published: 2020-01-08 07:40:17
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Various electoral systems exist depending on countries and provisions in their respective constitutions. The best electoral system is the one that accurately reflects the preferences of voters. An electoral system is supposed to convert voters preferences into election results. Citizens normally have a right to vote but the definition of the term citizen is sometimes intriguing. A provision on the constitution details the rights of citizens including their right to vote.

However, it is important to note that some sections of populations might not be recognized as citizens by the constitution and hence have no right to vote. This seclusion might be on bases of gender, race, property, and age, (Isler C. , 2001, p. 13-15). The restrictions that exist or existed to limit the right to vote are many and vary with the population in question. In the United States for instance, some sections of the society were discriminated due to the color of their skin. African American did not have the suffrage until the Fifteenth Amendment that allowed them to vote.

Literacy tests, poll taxes, hiding the location of the polls, economic pressures, physical pressure and other strategies were used to suppress the African-American vote, (Kenneth F. , 2008, p. 14). Women too were not allowed to vote until 1920 when the Nineteenth Amendment was made. The level of education too has been used to bar those that are not educated from voting. In the past, those with property were the only people eligible to vote. Those that did not pay taxes did not have a say in the running affairs of the state. Other circumstances do not deny some people the right to vote but discourages them to vote.

These affects people with special needs like the disabled and the youth. The youth especially have the tendency to abstain from voting citing unfriendly environments and not being represented in the system. Despite all these shortfalls, the legislature has been instrumental in bringing changes to address the situation. The important electoral reforms that took place in the 19th and 20th century includes the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments also collectively known as the Civil War and Reconstruction Amendments.

They were done in the period 1865 to 1870. These amendments outlawed slavery, guaranteed citizenship and extended suffrage rights and other civil rights to all US citizens. In the past three decades, a number of electoral reforms have been enacted in the U S. These reforms are designed to increase turnout by easing restrictions on the casting of ballots. There is a consensus that these reforms should increase the demographic representation of the electorate by reducing the direct costs of voting.

This would in turn increase turnout among less-privileged groups who, are most sensitive to the costs of coming to the polls. These reforms have been contested because both major political parties in the US believe that increasing turnout among less-privileged groups will benefit Democratic politicians. Studies of electoral reform reveal that reforms designed to make it easier for registered voters to cast their ballots actually increase, rather than reduce, socioeconomic biases in the composition of the voting public.

It is therefore important to shift the focus of electoral reform from an emphasis on institutional changes to a concentration on political engagement, (Berinsky A. , 2005, p. 471-491). This will result into an all-inclusive electoral system.

References

Berinsky A. (2005, Jan 7). The Perverse Consequences of Electoral Reform in the United States. American Politics Research, 471-491. From http://vote. caltech. edu/drupal/node/28 Kenneth F. (2008). Encyclopedia of U. S. Campaigns, Elections, and Electoral Behavior. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Isler C. (2001). The Right to Vote. New York: Rosen.

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