Chapter Four
THE ELECTORAL PROCESS

In theory, the political process in the United States is a system of participatory democracy. Authority is supposed to rest on the consent of the governed. Representatives are periodically held to account at the polls. The franchise is universally distributed among the great mass of the populace.

The institutions of government are expected to expedite the free flow of information so that the electorate can intelligently appraise their performance. The citizen not only enjoys the right to vote for candidates for local, state, and federal office, but he is also free to engage actively in the organization and direction of political parties. He is encouraged to communicate his views on public policy to all levels of government.

Frequently voters are asked to serve in an advisory capacity to public officials or public agencies, to study policy problems and to make recommendations, or to assemble expert opinion outside the corridors of the governing bureaucracy. Even more frequently, voters organize themselves into groups to advocate and press particular interests upon the centers of power. The resultant picture is that of a citizenry in charge of the state and engaged in the rational exchange of diverse views until a consensus can be ratified by a working majority of the total populace at the polls.

-57-

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