Notes, 1:00 p.m., Spring 2001, February 5, 2001
DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA
Democracy means to be governed by the people. It is a political system in which the people govern themselves. There are two types of democracy, 1) direct democracy and, 2) indirect democracy.
Democracy by petition is one example direct democracy. There are three types of democracy by petition. They are initiative, referendum, and recall petitions. It is used ONLY on a state and local level. That means that democracy by petition can be used at the state, county, city and special district levels.
Voters for a proposed law to the government use an initiative petition. A minimum number of signatures are required on an initiative petition. If that action is met, the government on the state or local level places the initiative on the next election ballot.
A referendum petition is a way for voters to veto a law passed by legislation. A minimum number of signatures are required on the petition. It is similar to an action that is used on the federal level by the President of the States. He uses a veto to prevent a piece of legislation from becoming law. Voters use a referendum petition to prevent a piece of legislation from becoming law. Both of these actions are very rare.
Voters to have an election official removed from office use a recall petition. A minimum number of signatures are required on the petition. If the minimum number of signatures required is on the petition, an elected official can be removed from office. This can be used only on the state and local levels. This cannot be used on the federal level. For example, a recall petition can remove a governor of a state or a mayor of a town, but it cannot remove the President of the United States.
Democracy on the Federal Level
A bill is a proposal that is introduced by a member or members of Congress for consideration to become law. A majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate sends the bill to the President for his signature for the bill to become law. If the President wishes to prevent the bill from becoming law, he uses his veto power. A veto prevents the bill from becoming law and gets sent back to Congress.
Officially, local governments are nonpartisan. But that is not always the case. On the Federal level, most votes in Congress are partisan. A partisan vote is a vote that is anticipated according to party. Members of Congress who are Republican may vote on measures or bills according to the Republican Party. Members of Congress who are Democrats may vote on measures or bills according to the Democratic Party. However, most laws that are passed are passed by a bipartisan vote. In each election, both parties try to attain the majority in both Houses of Congress. a part of democracy or the democratic system.