Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Explaining U.S. Elections

Cultural Affairs Officer Robert Kerr addressing Nigerian
 Turkish Nile University students
The U.S. presidential election is followed in Nigeria with some excitement, but also confusion.  The excitement comes from the volume of media coverage it enjoys, the fact that whatever happens in the United States affects many other countries, and also that the contestants are usually major players in the global space.  This year’s election has been a huge media spectacle with an estimated $10 billion spent on advertisements and the major players enjoying cult-like followership.
Despite all the fanfare and excitement, there is quite some confusion regarding the party primary process: party delegates and pledged delegates, diaspora voting, and Electoral College.  To dispel this confusion, the U.S. Embassy organized
outreach programs to educational institutions, civil society organizations, and think-tank groups with interest in elections.  The goal is to promote an enhanced understanding of the U.S. presidential election cycle and electoral system, as well as to encourage U.S. citizens in Nigeria to exercise their rights to vote.

Speaking to students from the political science and international relations departments at the Nigerian Turkish Nile University in Abuja, Cultural Affairs Officer Robert Kerr provided a historical and constitutional background to the U.S. electoral system before shedding light on the working of party caucus and primaries.  He informed the students that the U.S. constitution does not limit the
number of parties that can contest the elections. .He also explained that the Electoral College was constituted as a means of overcoming the challenges of communication in the early days.

The outreach train would be moving further northward to Bingham University Nasarawa and Arewa House Kaduna in the coming months.

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