Compare UK and USA electoral systems

Compare UK and USA electoral systems

UK and USA Electoral Systems

Voting System

  • The US uses the Electoral College system for electing their president, which is an indirect form of voting where electors vote on behalf of their state.
  • The UK uses the First Past the Post (FPTP) system for general elections; whoever gets the most votes in each constituency wins.

Election Frequency

  • US federal elections happen every two years for Congress, and every four years for the Presidency.
  • The UK has fixed-term parliaments, with general elections every five years, unless a snap election is called.

Voting Age and Registration

  • In both countries, the legal voting age is 18.
  • In the US, voters must register to vote; in many states, this isn’t done automatically. In the UK, individuals are automatically invited to register when they turn 16.

Candidate Selection

  • In the US, candidates go through primaries and caucuses to be selected to represent their party in the general elections.
  • In the UK, candidates are chosen by local branches of their party; there is little direct voter involvement in this process.

Role of Political Parties

  • The US has a dominant two-party system, with the Democratic and Republican parties holding the vast majority of political power.
  • The UK has a multi-party system, although the Conservative and Labour parties have been the most dominant historically.

Voting Districts

  • In the US, election districts (known as congressional districts for House Representatives) often change shape and size due to redistricting and gerrymandering both of which can create controversy.
  • In the UK, boundaries can change to reflect population shifts but the process is overseen by independent Boundary Commissions, making it less subject to political manipulation.

Influence of Money

  • The US system allows for more campaign financing, with potentially huge sums spent particularly in presidential campaigns.
  • In the UK, there are strict expenditure limits for campaigns, limiting the impact of financial resources on election outcomes.