IN THE NEWS #453 - U. S. Elections

By Paul Thompson

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

Americans will vote Tuesday in a general election. They will elect a new president and vice president. They will chose a new House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate. They will also choose many state and local officials. Four years ago, in the last general election, the voting rate was forty-nine percent.

Thousands of candidates are asking the public for their votes. Democrats hope to regain control of Congress. In New York, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is in a close race for the Senate. Another Senate candidate, Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, died in a plane crash. But the Democrat's name is still on the ballot. His wife has agreed to serve his term if he is elected.

Most people expect either Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Al Gore to become the next president. However, other candidates from small political parties are also asking voters to consider them for the office. They are called "third-party candidates." The names of thirteen of these candidates will appear on most ballots. Ralph Nader of the Green Party and Pat Buchanan of the Reform Party are the best known.

In addition, seventy other people are known as write-in candidates. Their names do not appear on voting materials. They are asking citizens to write in their names on the ballot when they vote.

Political experts say that if Ralph Nader were not a candidate, most of his supporters would vote for Al Gore. They say Mr. Nader could receive enough votes to harm the vice president's chances of winning some states.

In almost every state, the candidate who wins the people's vote also gets all of that state's electoral votes. Presidents are chosen through the Electoral College system. California, with the most people, has fifty-four electoral votes. New York is second, with thirty-three, one more than Texas.

A candidate needs two-hundred-seventy electoral votes to win. Three times in American history, a president has been elected even though a majority of Americans did not vote for him. The last time a president lost the popular vote was in eighteen-eighty-eight.

This year's presidential campaign has been extremely competitive. New opinion studies appear each day. Still they have not shown one candidate taking a clear lead among voters. Political experts are quick to say that opinion studies are not always right. In nineteen-forty-eight, it appeared that Republican candidate Thomas Dewey would clearly defeat President Harry Truman. Truman won that election by a huge majority.

Listen to the VOA Special English program THIS IS AMERICA on Monday, November thirteenth. We will tell what happened in elections across the nation.

This IN THE NEWS program was written by Paul Thompson. This is Steve Ember.

"This Is America" in VOA Special English