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Beyond Ballot Boxes - The Ultimate Voting Resource Guide

Voting is one of the most popular ways of electing people into power. People who vote express their opinions on the candidates they think can excellently manage the positions they are vying for. Countries where voting is practiced usually have a democratic government. These countries have rules that must be adhered to before the right to vote (suffrage) is exercised.

HISTORY OF SUFFRAGE

Suffrage simply means the civil right to vote. In the early stages of America’s democracy, the right to vote was enjoyed by men who held recognized positions or those who were privileged by their race, economic status, social importance and more. Women were also denied the opportunity to vote or contest for political offices. However, this is no longer the norm as it is now obvious that women and African Americans can now contest and share equal rights with others.

Some of the types of suffrage are universal suffrage and women’s suffrage. Universal suffrage is the franchise given to every adult who is a citizen of the country. However, the adult must be a responsible citizen and mentally sound. Universal suffrage first began in the Corsican Republic in 1755. In Europe, it was first recognized by Finland in 1906. Women’s suffrage grants women the right to vote or contest for offices with men at the same time. This began when Lydia Taft became the first woman to cast her vote in America during the British rule.

  • Women's Suffrage: This page contains dates when women were given the right to vote in different countries.
  • The Right to Vote: Basically, the right to vote should be included in the US constitution.
  • Voting Rights: This site has a list of links to various individual attempts by historic Americans to implement the right of every citizen to vote.
  • Your Voting Power: This is a study guide on the right to vote.
  • Origins of Universal Suffrage: Movement for universal suffrage began in 1776 in Pennsylvania.    
  • Woman Suffrage: This link contains the history of women’s suffrage in the world. 

POLITICAL PARTIES

Political parties play important roles in sustaining democracy in the United States. The history of political parties in the country can be traced to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Today, there are several parties and each of them has its own political viewpoints to make the democracy very strong and interesting. Some of them are the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green Party and Constitution Party.

The Democratic Party

The Democratic Party was created between 1824 and 1828 but it existed prior to this under a different name. The basic viewpoint of the party is the need to affect the citizens positively by concentrating on economic matters that favor everybody. Presidents from the Democratic Party include John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. In all, fourteen presidents have emerged from the party between 1828 and 2008. The donkey is used as the symbol of the party.

The Republican Party

The Republican Party was created in 1855. At the time of its creation, it became the strongest opposition to the Democratic Party. One of the major achievements of the party was the abolition of slavery. The Republicans believe that the government should be more concerned with the private affairs of the citizens. The first person to be elected president from the party was Abraham Lincoln.

Libertarian Party

This party was created on the 11th of December, 1971. The motto of the party describes their point of view “As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others”. Perhaps, this viewpoint also explains why the Liberty Party was the first to issue a ticket to a woman as a political aspirant. Though the party is not as strong as the Democratic and Republican, more than 140 Libertarians have held strategic positions in the country. The Libertarians believe that any government established must support the freedom of the citizens.

Green Party

The Green Party was formed in 2001 from various green party state organizations. Members of the Green Party are concerned about the safety of the environment. Hence, they try to avoid the use of fossil fuels, deforestation and any other activity that can cause pollution and imbalance in the climate. They also advocate improved health care facilities and the right for affordable medical treatment. Members of the party also insist that the living wage of workers should be high so that the standard of living can be improved.

Constitution Party

The Constitution Party is another third party in the US. The party has a slogan, “Forging a Rebirth of Freedom”. Members of the party believe that the United States should re-adopt the principles that were laid by the founding fathers of America’s democracy. They also believe that the country should discontinue with the use of the Internal Revenue Service by replacing it with a “fair tax” system. Finally, the Constitution Party does not believe in wars or world policing except if doing so will be beneficial to the safety of the citizens.

UNDERSTANDING HOW THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE WORKS

The Electoral College is a group of people known as the electors. The electors are representatives or those who have been elected by the people to elect the president and the vice president in the United Sates. The Electoral College came into existence with the original plan of the US democratic system. The group consists of 538 members and for any person to emerge as president or vice president; he must obtain a minimum of 270 electoral votes.

NOTABLE ELECTIONS

  • The 1828 Election: This page contains the presidential candidates, the results and more information about the election.
  • The 1932 Election: Roosevelt defeated Hoover in 1932 to become the 32nd president of the United States. Find out how it all happened by following the link.
  • Election of 1896: Information contained on this site includes the states that were won by the two major contestants: William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan 
  • The Dewey Defeats Truman Mistake: After the 1948 elections, the Illinois Newspaper made a mistake by carrying the false information that Truman had not defeated Dewey in the elections. The reasons and more information about this can be found via this link.
  • The 1960 Election: The major contestants in the 1960 election were John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Information contained on this link includes the election results, primaries and the election campaigns.
  • Election of 1912: Complete information on the candidates, the winner of the election, and what happened during the election.
  • The 2000 Election: This is one of the closest presidential elections in the US history. It was between George W. Bush and Al Gore. 
  • Election of 1824: This page has information on the various contestants and results of the 1824 presidential elections.
  • The Election of 1860: This is a complete overview of the 1860 presidential election.
  • The 2008 Presidential Election: A comprehensive guide to the results and people’s reactions to the 2008 presidential elections.

HELPFUL RESOURCES FOR VOTERS

  • Electronic Voting Fact Sheets: This PDF link contains links to various states in the US where voters can get ballot papers.
  • Electronic Voting: Guidelines for the use of electronic voting machine is discussed here.
  • Find Your Poling Place: Eligible voters can find their polling places by making calls or visiting websites found on this resource.
  • Absentee Voting: This link contains information, guidelines and registration for absentee voting.
  • Absentee Ballot Application: Residents of Georgia can apply for absentee ballot via this link.
  • Your Rights and Responsibilities: Every responsible citizen has the right to vote. He also has responsibilities to perform such as preventing fraud.
  • Overseas Voting: This contains information on absentee voting, voting eligibility and how to return your ballot paper.
  • Voting Rights Act (1965): This was enforced to end the act of discriminating voters after the civil war.
  • Voters Rights and Responsibilities: There are very salient points that are yet unknown to a lot of voters. These points have been outlined on this resource.
  • Disability Rights laws: Even people with disabilities have the rights to vote. This can be better understood by going through this online resource.

OTHER VOTING AND ELECTION RESOURCES



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