Elections in the USA

The US Constitution includes some general provisions on the franchise. It sets forth certain requirements for candidates running for a post of a president, vice-president, senator or member of the House of Representatives. Requirements usually concern age, residence and citizenship. The candidates who meet all these requirements are considered eligible for office.

A residence qualification requires a permanent residence of an individual in order to get the right to vote. The duration of the residence qualification is, in general, a few months though it may substantially vary from state to state. Besides, some states have the so-called literacy qualification (the voter should be able to read and speak English, he (she) must know how to interpret the US Constitution, etc.).

And at last it should be mentioned that in some states a poll tax is levied upon everyone who votes and this certainly discourages poor citizens and Negroes from voting. In this context, it is not surprising that not all the Americans participate in elections, including congressional or presidential elections.

The voters are registered by clerks of counties or towns and by local election commissions. When registering, the voter must produce an identification card. This is done to prevent fraud. The administration of elections is vested in an election commission which ordinarily is composed of two commissioners, one representing each of the major parties, and a third ex officio member, usually a sheriff, a county judge, or a clerk. Prior to holding primary or general election, the commission appoints election officers for each precinct and also arranges for polling places. After the ballots have been cast, they are counted and the results obtained are tabulated and returned to the election commission which officially counts the precinct tally sheets.