Matthew Jones (Political Science Instructor) gives expert video advice on: Myth- When I vote in a primary, I'm voting directly for the candidate I select on the ballot?; Myth- Whoever gets the most votes in the presidential election wins?; Myth- Anyone can be President?
Myth- When I vote in a primary, I'm voting directly for the candidate I select on the ballot?
What you're voting for is not necessarily that your vote counts directly toward that name. You're voting for delegates and what these delegates are- these are people who go to the party's convention and they're the ones who choose a candidate. Why this is important is because let's say that you checked for your vote, Mitt Romney. Well, Mitt Romney has now dropped out of the Republican campaign. So where does his delegates go? Well, his delegates now can go towards-are up for grabs. So Mitt Romney can endorse John McCain and persuade his delegates- the people who are selected to go to the convention to vote for John McCain at the convention. However, a lot of times, they don't have to be persuaded that way. Most of the time, they do because theyare, they feel a loyalty or a sense of right or duty to go with what with Mitt Romney says because they're his delegates. A lot of times these delegates are not necessarily bound to vote for the person who got the majority in the state so if one candidate gets a majority in the state, all the delegates in that state are not necessarily bound to vote for that person at the convention. Generally there is an ethical and social norm that says that's what they do and generally it doesn't matter. But you're not voting directly for the candidate, you're voting for the delegates who then go and debate and talk and bargain and do other things and they're the ones who decide who the candidate is.
Myth- Whoever gets the most votes in the presidential election wins?
We have what's called an Electoral College system of selecting the president, which means you vote for an Electoral College member, who then goes to the Electoral College and votes for president. So again, it's an indirect measure. Originally this was done because the average person was living on a farm out in the middle of nowhere, and wasn't overly informed about who the presidential candidates were. There wasn't the internet or mass media or CNN or anything else to inform them. So the thought was that people are more informed about who in their local community they trust to make a good decision, than they are about who's going to make a good president. The idea was you select someone in your local community and then they go and they cast their own judgment about who is going to be president. Obviously that's changed over the years with the Information Age. In general, you vote for a certain amount of delegates to the Electoral College, and then they vote for a candidate.
Myth- Anyone can be President?
There are some technical requirements to being Presient. You have to be, at least, thirty-five years old. You have to be not only a citizen but you have to be born in the United States. You cannot have a federal conviction on your record. So these are some of the technical provisions but other than that, there are no other requirements. You do not have to have first been a governor or first been a senator or first been a general, and we've had actually had governors and senators and generals all be presidents. We've had business leaders be presidents. Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer before he was governor who then become president, and, obviously, Ronald Reagan was an actor beforehand. So, the presidents can come from all different walks of life but they have be 35, born here, and keep their nose clean in terms of the criminal justice system.