Trends in the US State Elections
The US state elections play a very important role in the formation of the legislative as well as executive power in the country. It should be pointed out that state elections are a part of the existing electoral system of the USA, which provides people with opportunities to influence and define politics by means of state elections, which actually forms legislative and executive power on the state level. At the same time, being once quite a rigid system, the US state elections have started to change in recent years. The enforcement of basic principles of direct democracy and the changes that have been implemented in the voters casting contributed consistently to emergence of new trends, which affect the US state elections. These trends defines the contemporary state elections system and provide US citizens with larger opportunities to control the legislature and define the policy of the authorities.
First of all, it should be said that the US state elections, been very important, traditionally involve two major participants: the Democratic and Republican parties of the US. Basically, it is a historical tradition which was created in the process of the formation of the USA and American democracy. At the present moment the representation of political forces in the USA has hardly changed and it is still the Democratic Party and the Republican Party that compete with one another for votes of the electorate.
At the same time, it is necessary to underline that the state elections may be influenced by the current situation in the state legislatures. What is meant here is the fact that parties attempt to establish their control over the state legislature because it gives them larger opportunities to perform their legislative functions and, what is more important, they can fully demonstrate the electorate the extent to which their work may be effective. In this regard, it should be said that the establishment of the party control over the state legislature potentially puts the party, either Democratic or Republican, into an advantageous position compared to its opponent, since the party that controls the state legislature defines its legislative policy and, thus, has the legislative power, while the party that has lost can control the legislative activity of its opponent but it can hardly implement its legislative program.
Taking into consideration the results of the 2006 elections, it should be said that in terms of the state legislature control, the Democratic Party has a consistently stronger position since 23 legislatures were carried by Democrats, 17 by Republicans and 9 legislatures were split. It is worth mentioning the fact that Democrats increased their control over state legislatures from 21 prior to the 2006 elections, to 23, while Republicans lost 2 legislatures respectively from 19 to 17 (Lewis, 2007). Basically, such a change proves the fact that the Democratic Party is in a better position because it has got larger support on the state elections in 2006. This means the strategy used by this party is worth carrying on, since, being supported by the electorate the Democrats can potentially gain even larger number of legislatures.
Nevertheless, the seeming victory of Democrats in the 2006 elections may be deceptive because it is ordinary voters that actually take decision and it is practically impossible to make some pressure on the electorate using the legislative power in a state (Lewis, 2007).
In fact, it is one of the advantageous of the direct democracy which has grown stronger in recent years and which may produce a profound impact on the result of the following state elections. Obviously, the direct democracy provides voters with ample opportunities to elect a candidate they like the most and they are confident in. Naturally, if Democrats or Republicans fail to prove that they worth voting for, people will vote for their opponents.
In such a way, the party control over the state legislature being very important is still counterbalanced by the main principles of the direct democracy.
In actuality, parties can only perform their legislative work effectively and demonstrate voters that they are able to create effective legislation that facilitates and improves the life of ordinary Americans. In this regard, the party control over the state legislature may just facilitate the implementation of legislation and the realization of the program developed by the party and particular candidates for the particular state. Nevertheless, it cannot be a 100% guarantee of the reelection of the candidate or the victory of the party in the next state elections. If the situation in the state deteriorates and the public is dissatisfied with the quality of work of the state legislature, it will be more likely they will vote for the opposing party and this is one of the benefits of the direct democracy.
At the same time, it should be pointed out that voters can face certain problems in the realization of their civil rights and principles of the direct democracy. The problems may be provoked by the process of how voters are cast. In this respect, it should be said that the voters casting may vary depending on the state and each state can develop its own regulations concerning this process (Stewart, 2001). Nevertheless, it is possible to single out some trends that are common to many states and that can evoke certain difficulties for voters. What is meant here is the fact that the introduction of new voting machines, for instance, which have replaced traditional lever machine and punch card voting equipment, is not always positive perceived by voters. In fact, the problem is that some voters, especially older ones, did not get used to the new voting machines since they are quite complicated for them. At the present moment, the majority of states have changed their jurisdiction concerning voting equipment and voters cast their ballots in polling places record their votes most commonly with optical scan voting machines or DRE voting machines (Lewis, 2007).
Thus, the USA state elections have demonstrated trends to changes in recent years. Basically, among the determinant factors that influence the result of elections it is possible to name the party control over the state legislature, the current principles of the direct democracy and the recent changes in the voters casting.
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