Go Vote: Understanding and Participating In United States Elections

October 30, 2018

Whether you’re a frequent voter or you’re a newbie to the voting scene, we could all use a refresher on understanding and participating in United States elections … unless you teach U.S. Government, that is. For those of us who can hardly remember what we had for lunch yesterday, it’s probably time we try to retain at least a little bit of what we learned all those years ago.

To vote, you have to of course, first register … unless you live in North Dakota, the only state that does not require registration! You can register to vote by following the requirements for your particular state. While no two states run their elections the same, the steps to vote are the same in most states. Most states assign you a specific polling place, or voting location, that is close to the address you list on your voter registration. Every state has absentee voting, which means you can still cast your vote even if you can’t make it to your physical polling place on Election Day. In some states, you might need to provide a reason you can’t make it to the polling place. In others, you can vote absentee no matter what. Finally, if you’re busy on Election Day, in some states, you can vote early by casting your vote by mail or in person at the local election official’s office or at another location designated by the local election official. Come prepared on Election Day. Some states require voters to present identification at the polling location.

Members of the House of Representatives stand for re-election every two years. This year, 35 of the 100 Senate seats and all 435 in the House of Representative are up for grabs. Each state is divided into districts and each district votes for one representative. The number of districts depends on the population in each state. For example, California, which has a large population, has 53 representatives in the House. Alaska, on the other hand, has only three representatives since not many people live there! As for the Senate, each state is represented by two Senators, regardless of its population. Senators serve for six years, but elections for Senators are staggered. Every two years, one-third of the Senators run for re-election.

Interested in where congressional districts begin and end? Hang a map to help you remember congressional district boundaries in effect. The map, which is available at the U.S. Government Bookstore, includes county names and boundaries for each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Presidential voting years, when you vote for the President on the first Tuesday in November every four years, you’re technically not casting your vote for President, but rather an “elector” who pledges to vote for either the Republican Presidential Nominee or the Democratic Presidential nominee in what is known as the Electoral College. Fifty states and the District of Columbia are each assigned a certain number of electors in a system that mirrors Congress: one elector for each of the 435 Representatives, one for each of the 100 Senators, and three electors for the District of Columbia. Each state receives a particular number of electors based on population size. Therefore, every ten years when the Census is conducted, some states might gain or lose electoral votes. In most states, the candidate who gets the majority of the popular vote takes all of its electors. Electors cast their state’s electoral votes in mid-December. A candidate must receive 270 of the 538 electoral votes to become President or Vice President.

Continue this refresher on the Electoral College. Nomination and Election of the President and Vice President of the United States from the GPO Bookstore describes the rules and process for nominating and electing the President and Vice President of the United States. It includes information on the Electoral College and the electoral voting system, as well as the delegate nominating process in the national party conventions.

So Election Day is over. But policymaking is only just getting started! Contact your representatives about issues that matter to you. And use the United States Senate Telephone Directory to do it. Each year the GPO produces this directory. It contains addresses and telephone numbers for United States Senators, Senate committee members, and their staff. Also, it presents information on caucuses, coalitions and bicameral organizations; the House of Representatives; the executive branch; and more.

Be the life of the political party by getting to know your Congressmen and women! The GPO Bookstore also offers a Congressional Pictorial Directory. This handy guide provides a color photograph of each Member of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the 115th Congress and details each Member’s length of service, political party affiliation, and congressional district.

You’re all prepared for the polls. Happy voting!

The GPO Online Bookstore – Easy Access to Federal Publications

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE RESOURCES?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at https://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

Find more than a million official Federal Government publications from all three branches at www.govinfo.gov.

About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.


Headline: Campaign Trails to the United States Federal election process

June 18, 2015

voteThe United Kingdom recently completed their Prime Minister election, and now, the American candidates are aligning for Presidential, Congressional, and Delegate elections to take place in November 2016.

As a result of the candidates’ campaign strategies, many potential voters within the United States of America are beginning to witness campaign advertisements on their local and cable television stations. The news media also has begun their weekly coverage of the nominees’ activities- including their viewpoints on topics currently impacting American culture in the workplace, economy, and personal struggles. Candidate telephone calls and mailings about candidates are beginning to make their way to the general citizen as well, in hopes for their votes in this next pivotal election.

november2016Have you ever wondered how much of this activity is consistent with the actual U.S. Federal election process?

To fact check what you hear through numerous news media programs, you can review Title 11 Federal Elections, Code of Federal Regulations volume (available in printed paperback at this link: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/869-082-00031-7. This book opens with the coverage of the Sunshine Act regulations and meetings for this commission. According to Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_in_the_Sunshine_Act), “ the Sunshine Act (Pub. L. 94-409) enacted September 13, 1976, 5 USC 552b (PDF can be found here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2012-title5/pdf/USCODE-2012-title5.pdf) is a law passed in 1976 that affects the operations of the Federal Government, Congress, Federal commissions and other legally constituted bodies. It is one of a number of Freedom of Information Acts, intended to create greater transparency in government.”

cfr title 11In addition to the public records that are available through the Freedom of Information Act, this volume also covers all items relating to the election process of The Presidential election for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States, plus the Congress- US House of Representatives, United States Senate, and Delegates as it relates to the U.S. Federal election process.

Some specific areas of the U.S. Federal election process included in this regulatory work are:

  • candidate nominees with possible party affiliations, and their responsibilities
  • campaign committees are defined
  • potential candidate personal income funds, including stocks, and other investments, income from trusts, gifts of a personal nature, and jointly owned assets by the candidate and their spouse are detailed
  • Contributions, such as loans, fundraiser or political event attendance, compensation for personal services for employees employed as part of the political activities,
  • And much more

Americans can gain insights to some past election campaigns of their elected officials by reading or reviewing the following titles in the Congressional Minority election collection series published by the US House of Representatives:

front-cover-sm-01Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-2012 available in printed paperback at: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/052-071-01567-1

Printed Hardcover format to utilize as a reference for years to come: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/052-071-01563-9

ePub eBook to download to a digital smartphone or tablet device:

http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/052-300-00008-8

MOBI eBook to download to a Kindle digital e-reader or tablet device:

http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/052-300-00008-8

These volumes are also part of the Minority series compiled and produced by the U.S. House of Representatives:

Women in Congress, 1917-2008– printed hardcover edition http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/052-070-07480-9

Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007 in printed paperback edition

http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/052-070-07520-1

To find public documents about the first days and months of a new President, you can refer to the Public Presidents of the United States series volumes, published by the National Archives and Records Administration, Office of the Federal Register. Here are a few volumes to get your reading started with first term presidential history. Students at all levels doing comparative politics or history research papers may wish to review the State of the Union addresses in each of these volumes to obtain information about past Presidents’ initiatives for the United States of America.

First Term, Barack Obama

069-000-00184-0Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Barack Obama, 2009, Book 1 in cloth edition format can be purchased here: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/069-000-00184-0

In ePub eBook file format can be found here: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/069-300-00002-2

First Term, George W. Bush

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George W. Bush, 2001, Book 1, January 20 to June 30, 2001

http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/069-000-00147-5

First Term, William J. Clinton

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, William J. Clinton, 1993, Book 1, January 20 to July 31, 1993

http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/069-000-00057-6

James (Jimmy) Carter

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1977, Book 1, January 20 to June 24, 1977

http://bookstore.gpo.gov/products/sku/069-000-00111-4

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE RESOURCES?

To obtain the resources mentioned in this blog, click on the links above.

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: This week’s blog contributor is Maureen Whelan, Senior Marketing Team Leader for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales program office in Washington, DC. Maureen oversees print and digital content dissemination strategy and manages third party free and paid content distribution through platforms and vendors, such as Apple iBookstore, Barnes and Noble.com, Google Play eBookstore, Ebscohost databases, Overdrive, and more.


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