Direct and indirect elections can take place within the same electoral system. This is seen in the U.S. electoral process in which Senators are elected directly while the President is elected indirectly. Direct elections allow voters to choose representatives without any intermediate party. Indirect elections require an intermediate third party (elector) to vote for a representative on behalf of the voters. Despite these notable differences, direct and indirect elections have various similarities.
One Person, One Vote
Both direct and indirect elections provide for one person, one vote. This means that a single person voting is only entitled to one vote for a certain candidate. It is also a provision that allows equal representation of voters across all states, regardless of the size of the state the voter is in. The population of a state is revised every 10 years to ensure that voters are equal to the state population. This equal representation is applicable for both the indirect election of a President or directly for congressional representatives.
Direct and indirect elections ultimately choose representatives to manage the affairs of the nation and the states. The President is chosen in indirect elections, through the Electoral College, as the representative of the nation. A congressional representative, such as a Senator or a congressperson, represents the state. These two types of elections facilitate democracy through representation, also known as a representative democracy. In a representative democracy, individuals are elected to represent the majority of the people.
Winner Take All
In both direct and indirect elections, the winner usually needs to secure a majority of the votes. This means that whether it is a presidential or congressional election, an individual is considered the winner even if he has less than 50 percent of the vote but still has more votes than his rival. However, in the U.S. the states of Nebraska and Maine practice proportional representation for both direct and indirect elections. In these states the votes are split and shared among the congressional districts.
Political parties are the main channel through which both direct and indirect elections take place. Candidates for the indirect presidential election and those for the direct elections are nominated through their political parties. The primary elections are held in each state to select candidates for the national convention in which a presidential candidate is chosen. Also, parties hold party primaries before an election for Senators and members of Congress.
- National Archives: American Information Web -- Reynolds V. Sims (1964)
- U.S. Electoral College: What is the difference between the winner-takes-all rule and proportional voting, and which States follow which rule?
- Z Net: "Parpolity and Indirect Elections"; Stephen Shalom; July 16 2009
- ACE Project: United States -- Study On Primary Elections