[As always, please remove my email address from this message's header
and from the issue's ToC Thanks.]
> We also still use the 'First Past The Post' method instead of
> Proportional Representation, which I believe you use in the US.
Heck, no. I'm not aware of any jurisdiction in the US that uses
proportional representation for any office. I suppose there might be
some locality somewhere that uses it for a city council or county.
commission, but certainly not in any federal or state level elections,
I'd wager that most American voters probably don't even know what PR
is! (In case any Digest readers aren't familiar with PR, it's a
system in which voters select a *party*, not a person, on their ballot
for members of a legislative body. Seats are then doled out in
proportion to each party's share of the total vote, starting at the
top of each one's "party list" of potential legislators.)
In fact, almost all federal and state offices are filled using the
same so-called "first past the post" system that is used in Britain
[BTW, can anyone enlighten me as to why that term is used? It makes
it sound like a horse race, in which the first contestant to reach
a specified milestone is the winner, but that's not how such elections
actually work. A better name would be "winner take all", since the
candidate with the most votes wins the election, even if he has a mere
plurality instead of a majority.] The only non-obvious exception I can
think of in general elections is Louisiana, which has a system similar to
that used in French presidential elections. Instead of party-specific
primary elections (which all other states use to select each party's
candidate for the general election), Louisiana fields an "open primary" in
which multiple candidates from all parties may run, and in which the
entire electorate may vote. If no candidate garners a majority of the
vote, th en a run-off election between the top two finishers
determines the winner.
And of course, there is also the one big obvious exception: the
presidency (and the vice-presidency), which is determined by the
Electoral College instead of by direct popular vote.