US Elections – What’s Different?

hill-and-donThere are so many differences between US and Australian elections it’s hard to know when to stop listing them:

  • Whilst some Australian legislatures have four-year terms and some have terms fixed, most US elections happen on the first Tuesday after the first Monday, quadrennially (see;
  • In Australian, it’s prohibited – without special permission – for National, State or local Government elections to happen on the same day; in the US they mostly happen on that same day;
  • National election voting rules – polling places, hours of opening, early voting, postal voting, and so on – are in the US managed by States and counties, while in Australia the Federal and State Governments manage their own, respectively, and States generally manage local government elections;
  • It’s changing, but in most cases US States (sometimes counties) independently manage voter lists/electoral rolls, while in Australia the State and Territories, by agreement, have the Federal Government manage theirs;
  • Enrolment to vote is optional in the US and mandatory in Australia;
  • Voting is optional in the US, and mandatory in Australia;
  • In most parts of the US, enrolment to vote is partisan – i.e. you identify yourself publicly on the voter roll as a Democrat, Republican, independent and so on, while political alignment is private in Australia – and that partisan enrolment is a significant component of their primary and caucus system of choosing candidates;
  • In Australia, we vote on a Saturday (still a day off work for most people) while in the US it’s Tuesday, a working day; and
  • Election campaigns in the US are not, as they are in Australia, the cooperative meshing of a party machine’s structures and a leader’s staff – US campaign organisations and structures (for big elections anyway) are mostly completely rebuilt from scratch every four years, at the individual candidate’s direction.


Several of these points have quite big implications, and we’ll post articles about these in the coming days.



(Half of the Ethical Consulting Services team – that would be Mike – will be embedded within the US Presidential campaign, from mid-October: this year, US election day is 8 November.)




About Mike Smith

Partner in Ethical Consulting Services:; Ethical strategies and programs which get you where you need to go ... * Exceptional government & stakeholder relations, * Thriving governance systems, * Specialised project facilitation, * Inbound investment assistance, * Successful marketing, communications and PR campaigns ... and customised training in each of these areas.

Posted on October 5, 2016, in campaigning, Change, Culture, Democracy, Election, Federal Government, Politics, State Government, Voting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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