United States vs. the World: What can we learn from each other’s elections


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Opinion Columnists compare and contrast United States election process to other countries to see what each country could incorporate into their own elections.

By Opinion Staff

The United States’ midterm election is Tuesday and with it a reminder of how our elections work. How can the U.S. learn from or give inspiration to other countries? 


By Lucy Atkinson

Brazil’s presidential elections just concluded on Oct. 30 with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva returning for his third term in office, defeating incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. While both Brazil and the United States are federal republics, the Brazilian government seems to hold the act of voting to a greater importance than the United States does; in any democratic nation, such reverence of the vote should be the goal.   

In Brazil, voting is mandatory beginning at 18 years old, but optional at 16 years old, according to Article 14 of the Brazilian constitution. Citizens who do not vote may receive minor fees or lose legal privileges, such as acquiring one’s passport. The potential for penalization provides an incentive to vote that results in a much larger voter turnout than American elections witness, according to Pew Research Center

Brazilian elections are also designed specifically for the ease of the voter to ensure participation. For instance, elections always occur on Sundays rather than in the middle of the standard workweek.

While many Americans would resent compulsory voting, perhaps the United States could benefit from increased federal encouragement to visit the polls, a lower voting age for optional participation before age 18 – like in Brazil – or greater legislative attention to the onslaught of voter suppression. 


By Max Honermeier

The German government and the U.S. government is each have two federal chambers, but their members are elected differently. The Germans also benefit from having many political parties, as opposed to the American bipartisan system.

The Bundestag, or federal assembly, is made up of at least 598 members, though that number sometimes increases. Half of these members are elected from a pool of constituencies directly by voters while the other half is selected by political parties. During the quadrennial elections, each voter casts two ballots – one for the constituencies and another to determine how many seats are awarded to each party.

The Bundesrat, or federal council, is known as the upper council although it’s smaller and has less power. There are no public elections to the Bundesrat and members are chosen from seat holders of the state governments.

German voters have a variety of choice of not only candidates, but what party they stand with. The United States political climate could be refreshed by allowing voters to choose from more than just Republican or Democratic parties.


By Angelina Padilla-Tompkins

The United States has more in common politically with their southern neighbor, Mexico, than most Americans might assume. 

The United Mexican States is a federal republic comprised of three government levels: central, state and local. Similar to the U.S., Mexico’s citizens are able to vote for their state governor and local mayors, according to donquijote

Mexico’s current president is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was elected in 2018. The position of president in Mexico is held for no more than six years, there is no opportunity for reelection and no vice president.

The presidential system in Mexico is rather interesting given that once an individual is elected, the people are stuck with them for the next six years. This is different from in America where the president will hold office for only four years, then citizens can vote to re-elect or vote for someone new. 

America has a clear line of succession should the position of president fall vacant. However, Mexico does no have a vice president, and their contingency plan seems unstable. 

If Mexico’s president can no longer serve within their first two years congress appoints an individual to act as president until a special election can be held. If the president leaves office within the four years of their term congress chooses an individual to fill the position for the rest of the term, according to country studies

Additionally, Mexico does not have an electoral college. Instead, the president is elected directly by the people. 

“He (the president) is elected every six years through direct election, universal suffrage, and the principle of relative or simple majority,” according to the Instituto Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Institute)

The subject of electoral college versus no electoral college has been highly debated in the United States, but the current election process is not likely to change. 

It makes sense for the U.S. to have the electoral college simply because of how big the country is and how the population falls based on states. 

For example, New York State has a population of nearly 19 million while states like Utah have a population of only 3 million. The electoral college ensures that voices from every state are heard in presidential elections. 

While a direct election might seem appealing, an electoral college could be highly beneficial to the citizens of Mexico. 

Similarly to the U.S., Mexico is broken up by states, each with vastly different populations and needs. 

For instance, in 2020 Mexico City had a population of 9.2 million while the country’s northern region, the state of Chihuahua, had a population of just 3.7 million. 

Having a system similar to the United State’s electoral college would ensure that citizens’ voices in Northern Mexico will be heard instead of being silenced by the overwhelming population of Mexico City.


By Philip Arduini

Canada’s election system is similar to the United States’, but party diversity and political campaigning are aspects that are more refined in the Canadian system. In both countries, the head of government is not elected by popular vote. In the U.S., the electoral college determines the president. In Canada’s case, the leader of the party that has the most members of Parliament becomes the Prime Minister. In the most recent election Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party, retained his position as prime minister. 

Members of Parliament make up the House of Commons, which is similar to the House of Representatives in the United States. The House of Commons has 337 elected members with more populous provinces, such as Ontario, electing more members. The Senate, however, is different from that of the U.S. as senators in Canada are appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. 

Canadian elections are scheduled to be every four years, but the Prime Minister can call for an election at any point within five years of the previous election. Once an election occurs, Parliament ends and writs, or written orders, of election are issued. Following the writs being issued is a period of 36 to 50 days in which candidates can campaign and debate other candidates. Each electoral district holds an election for members of Parliament. Limiting the length of campaigns is an aspect that the U.S. should look to in order to improve elections. A limited timeframe for campaigning means candidates must focus solely on winning over voters.

While the American political system is mostly comprised of members of either the Democratic or Republican parties, Canada’s representation is slightly more diverse with four different parties holding a significant amount of parliament seats. Having more competitive parties allows for more voter choice, which is an aspect the U.S. election system could improve on. These parties are given campaign spending caps, unlike the U.S. in which campaign spending reaches great proportions. Limits on campaign spending would be an additional way to improve U.S. elections as the merits of a candidate should be more important than the money their campaign has.