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Why Are American Elections so Long?

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Long campaigns cause candidates to prioritize fundraising, but shorter ones favor party-line voting.

This July, Japan will hold elections to its House of Councillors, the upper chamber of its national legislature. And yet, as of today, no voter has seen an ad, a poster, or a speech for that election; the law prohibits campaigning more than 17 days prior to the election. (The limit is 12 days for elections to the lower chamber.)

Japan is hardly alone in creating such limits. Many democracies feature defined legal limits on campaign lengths. Some parliamentary systems like those in Canada and the United Kingdom allow the majority party to call for a snap election, functionally limiting the length of a national campaign to months or weeks.

To some Americans, such limitations might seem quite welcome. We are, of course, more than a year and a half away from the 2020 presidential election, and we’re already well into the campaigning period, with candidates having already done numerous speeches, visits, and major news interviews. A good many people are undoubtedly already sick of an election for which all the candidates haven’t even officially declared.

Beyond just being tedious, there are important downsides to long campaigns. They are expensive to run, meaning that candidates have to raise more money and spend more time with donors and less with voters. And unlike in parliamentary systems where there are clear demarcations between governing and campaigning periods, American candidates are often doing both simultaneously. The estimated four or more hours a day members of Congress spend fundraising could be spent on more useful legislative activities.



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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !