America’s voting system is crazy – here’s what you need to know:)

It may be a long, raucous and rambling road to the White House, but choosing the next American president is anything but simple.

While many voters won’t pay attention until a few weeks before Election Day, running for president takes years of active planning, fundraising and calculation.
But when should you start caring? And what’s the difference between a caucus and a primary? Here’s what you need to know about the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
America’s two main political parties — Democratic and Republican — choose their respective nominees through party-sponsored contests in each of the states and U.S. territories, a process that starts in February and takes up to five months.
Iowa and New Hampshire traditionally kick off the process early in the year, and then other states follow — but before that, candidates have typically spent a year laying the groundwork for campaigns in those regions.
Once each party has a candidate, they spend the rest of the summer and autumn campaigning until the general election on November 8.

Why do they cost so much money?

One reason they cost a lot is because they last so long. Unlike some other countries, there are no rules on how early a candidate can start campaigning — Ted Cruz officially announced he was running in March 2015, nearly 20 months before the election.
Also unlike some other countries, there’s no limit on how much you can spend. A presidential campaign can cost up to $1 billion — and that’s not even counting money spent by outside groups. It’s not cheap to travel across the country for two years or more, buy advertisements on television, and pay a small army of campaign workers.

What’s the difference between a “caucus” and a “primary”?

States have two ways of collecting their party members’ votes when choosing a presidential candidate — “primaries” and “caucuses.”
A “primary” is what most people traditionally think of when they imagine voting — people show up at a neighborhood polling place to vote for their candidate by ballot.
A “caucus” is very different. It’s a neighborhood event that requires several hours of active communal participation and debate, and takes place in the evening in a home or public space, depending on the size of the caucus location.

When should I start caring?

Thirteen states and territories held caucuses or primaries on the first Tuesday in March — also known as “Super Tuesday.” The results cemented Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the clear favorites in the race for the Democratic and Republican nominations, but it’s far from over.

So who are the top Republican contenders?

Donald Trump: The real estate mogul has led the field for months despite breaking many rules of traditional campaigning, including criticizing prisoners of war, Mexicans, Muslims and women (amongst others). Very few experts predicted he would be so successful.
Ted Cruz: The fiercely conservative Texas Senator has made a name for himself as an outsider in Congress. He orchestrated a government shutdown in 2013.
Marco Rubio: The Florida Senator came to power with the rise of the anti-establishment “Tea Party” side of his party in 2010, but has shown ability to work with Democrats.

And who are the top Democrats?

Hillary Clinton: She’s been planning this campaign almost since the moment she lost in 2008. Wife of Bill, she’s seen as somewhat of a continuation of Barack Obama and a safe pair of hands by Democrats.
Bernie Sanders: The Vermont Senator represents the most liberal wing of mainstream American politics, but some Democrats see him as too lefty to win a national election.

When will we finally know who the nominees will be?

We usually know who the party nominees will be by late spring, but they are not officially chosen until the national party convention in the summer.

Does the nominee with the most votes win?

If only!
Instead of selecting a president based on how many votes they receive, the Founding Fathers established what’s called the Electoral College. Each state gets the same number of electors as it has Congressmen and Senators — and the bigger the state, the more electors it has.
In all but two states (Maine and Nebraska), it’s a winner-take-all system — so if you win 60% of the vote in California, you get all of that state’s electors. For example, in 2012 Obama got 51% of the nationwide votes, which translated into 61% of the Electoral College votes.
In the end, whoever receives 270 Electoral College votes or more wins. Don’t even get us started with what happens if there’s a tie — and we already know what happens when there’s a recount.
Source – (CNN)

LEU students’ multiple opinion article “Why I Hate Politics”

“Frankly speaking, I don’t hate politics. However, if I said that I was interested in politics, I would be lying as well. Just because I personally don’t follow the latest news about politics or know much about the political systems and affairs between various countries doesn’t mean that I despise politics. Just like many young people nowadays, I don’t take part in political activities as well as don’t really have much knowledge concerning politics since it seems something that only serious elderly people can be involved in. To me, politics is like an empty house – barren and boring. But you are still surrounded by it, you cannot live without it. And when you look at this “empty house” up close, you realize how much work has been put into building and maintaining it; you realize that it is something rather complex when you start looking at all its crevices and cracks. Hence, you cannot run away from politics, even though, it might not be of any interest to you at all. Every person is a part of his/her country’s political system, whether they like it or not. That’s why I cannot claim that I hate politics – something that controls so many aspects of my life.” Laura Baniulytė, LEU 2nd year student of English philology

“To be honest, I found the statement ‘to hate politics’ rather extreme expressing my individual concern about political issues. In terms of my own beliefs, it would more accurate to state that ‘I don’t really hate politics, while the rest of the world really prompts me to do it’. Literally speaking, thousands of Lithuanians share either limited or fixed knowledge on the fact that approximately two-thirds of the people being in charge of governmental issues are kind of liars, corrupt people or the ones who will never deliver their promises. I cannot agree more, it is normal hate the ones who cheat and disappoint you all the time. However, the other side of this approach could be assumed as a typical human tendency to hate those who are in power and can take actions on others. It is easy to hate the ones, we disagree with, isn’t it? To that end, it is crucial to understand the reasons why are we constantly arguing about politics. Since, otherwise such ‘displeasure’ with political issues could be deemed as either a stereotypical thinking or an old habit against people who are in power. Thus, broadly speaking, these statements mostly lead to my own perception that I don’t really hate politics. I am aware of the fact that politicians are normally surrounded by affairs and tricky situations making them the worst and cynical people in the world. However, despite this, I’m trying to think critically all the time. In other words, I support convincing ideas which not only look nice to me, but also fit my own beliefs. Hence, I find myself being interested and keen on politics quite often. Besides, I consider such interest as rather useful and compulsory. Thus, such perception leads me to rethink the fact that we have no right to judge and criticize the final product if we were not involved in the process. Therefore, to my way of thinking, I can draw a conclusion that we shouldn’t try to escape from the things which affect our lives significantly or neither hate it, but start caring them from the very beginning.”  Miglė Grašytė, second year student of English philology.Miglė Grašytė's profile photo

Gabrielius Bružas second year student of English philology.

“I hate politics because a lot of politicians care more about their own wallet and acquiring power than about being sincere and reliable to the people who gave them the chance to sit in politician’s chair – to their own nation. The fact that most of the politicians are hypocrites is easily noticeable in every election. Generally, people who candidate for the position in the government would say anything to get that job. Every time the new elections come tons of guarantees for better life are seen. Some promise to lower the taxes, some promise to raise the wages and so on. The promises are always very beautiful but changes rarely come to life. The promises are mainly focused on the working class and the elderly because these people generally yearn for the changes so much that are willing to close their eyes and give their vote for the politician that promises the most. Obviously there are some sincere politicians but they are rarely elected because they do not build air castles of fake promises and appear less grandiose. Therefore, I hate politics because the people who were chosen by the nation are rarely those who truly care about their country and deserve trust.”Gintarė Ragauskaitė.
Austėja Maskoliūnaitė

II year student of English Philology

Eglė's profile photo

Eglė Gričinaitė

Introduction to U.S. Presidential Elections by Armantas Stankevičius and Anton Achremov

U.S. presidential elections will start in less than 9 months on November 8th, 2016, however both the electoral campaign and the media hype have already picked up a lot of momentum. The reason behind this is that in the U.S. it is not only the Election Day, but rather the entire Election Year that matters. With 2016 obviously being a significant year for the American politics, we would like to once more briefly remind how the United States elections work.presidential_election

As already mentioned, the entire year matters and the reason for that are the primaries that take place in the beginning of the year. The purpose of the primaries is to decide which of many Democrat and Republican candidates will become nominees for U.S. presidency. The way primaries are organized may vary from one state to another. In some of them all voters get to have a vote, in others only the members of the parties can decide. The dates of the primaries are also fixed by each state individually. Despite that, one day, known as “super Tuesday” is special. It is a Tuesday in February or March, when the biggest number of states get to elect a candidate. This year it is the 1st of March, with 11 states voting. The current candidates racing for the seat of the president are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both representing the Democrat party, with poll numbers having a difference only in few percent, which means they are similarly popular amongst the U.S. citizens. On the opposing side, which is the Republicans, we have Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson. Trump currently being the most popular Republican candidate, having ⅓ of all polls and the rest being divided between the remaining candidates.US-PRESIDENTIAL-ELECTION-0F-2016-10

However, candidates are not elected directly; voters only elect delegates who are obliged to vote for a particular person. The candidate that gets more than a half of all delegates’ votes wins the primaries and becomes the party’s official nominee for the Presidential election. If none of the candidates win a majority, the party holds an inner negotiation where some of the candidates may withdraw. After that, a second round of voting is held, but this time delegates are not bound to a certain candidate and may vote as they wish. This continues until someone finally gets more than 50% of all votes. The number of delegates required to become a nominee for the position of U.S. president for the Democrats is 2,383. Clinton currently has been able to win 502 delegates and Bernie Sanders is left with a handful of 70. On the Republican side only 1,237 delegates are required for nomination, but considering the amount of candidates it seems reasonable. Trump is currently leading with 67, Cruz being second with 11, Rubio staying not so farUSA-3 behind with 10, Kasich moving slowly with 5 and Carson being last with 3.

Finally, when all the primaries are over and parties have chosen their Presidential candidates, the final Election Day comes (this year November 8th). This time however, once again citizens do not get a direct vote, but choose the electors, who are once again obliged to vote for a certain candidate. The number of electors varies in different states, depending on the state’s population. When the votes have been counted and it becomes clear, which candidate won in which state, “the winner takes it all principle” is applied. Electors are not directly assigned to the candidate. Instead, the candidate that wins in a certain state gets the votes of all the electors of that state. The only exception from this rule is Nebraska and Maine that use a different method – one elector is selected in every congressional district of these states, while two remaining ones are selected by a statewide popular vote. vote

This is the reason why campaigns in certain states are much denser than in the others, since winning in a big state (Florida, California, Texas) is a lot more beneficial.

All in all, the election system into the U.S. presidency is very elaborate, has many steps and a wide range of candidates. And even though certain candidates have already shown some popularity spikes, the picture of the winner is still vague.