Elections in the United States
Elections in the United States are held for government officials at the federal, state, and local levels. At the federal level, the nation's head of state, the president, is elected indirectly by the people of each state, through an Electoral College. Today, these electors almost always vote with the popular vote of their state. All members of the federal legislature, the Congress, are directly elected by the people of each state. There are many elected offices at state level, each state having at least an elective governor and legislature. There are also elected offices at the local level, in counties, cities, towns, townships, boroughs, and villages; as well as for special districts and school districts which may transcend county and municipal boundaries. According to a study by political scientist Jennifer Lawless, there were 519,682 elected officials in the United States as of 2012[update].[failed verification]
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While the United States Constitution does set parameters for the election of federal officials, state law, not federal, regulates most aspects of elections in the U.S., including primaries, the eligibility of voters (beyond the basic constitutional definition), the running of each state's electoral college, as well as the running of state and local elections. All elections—federal, state, and local—are administered by the individual states.
The restriction and extension of voting rights to different groups has been a contested process throughout United States history. The federal government has also been involved in attempts to increase voter turnout, by measures such as the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The financing of elections has also long been controversial, because private sources make up substantial amounts of campaign contributions, especially in federal elections. Voluntary public funding for candidates willing to accept spending limits was introduced in 1974 for presidential primaries and elections. The Federal Elections Commission, created in 1975 by an amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act, has the responsibility to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of U.S. presidential elections.