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State and Local Government | The White House
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State and Local Government
Powers not granted to the Federal government are reserved for States and the people, which are divided between State and local governments.
Most Americans have more frequent contact with their State and local governments than with the Federal Government. Police departments, libraries, and schools—not to mention driver’s licenses and parking tickets—usually fall under the oversight of State and local governments. Each state has its own written constitution, and these documents are often far more elaborate than their Federal counterpart. The Alabama Constitution, for example, contains 310,296 words—more than 40 times as many as the U.S. Constitution.
All State governments are modeled after the Federal Government and consist of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The U.S. Constitution mandates that all States uphold a “republican form” of government, although the three-branch structure is not required.
In every state, the Executive Branch is headed by a governor who is directly elected by the people. In most states, other leaders in the executive branch are also directly elected, including the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state, and auditors and commissioners. States reserve the right to organize in any way, so they often vary greatly with regard to executive structure.
All 50 States have legislatures made up of elected representatives, who consider matters brought forth by the governor or introduced by its members to create legislation that becomes law. The legislature also approves a State’s budget and initiates tax legislation and articles of impeachment. The latter is part of a system of checks and balances among the three branches of government that mirrors the Federal system and prevents any branch from abusing its power.
Except for one State, Nebraska, all States have a bicameral legislature made up of two chambers: a smaller upper house and a larger lower house. Together the two chambers make State laws and fulfill other governing responsibilities. (Nebraska is the lone state that has just one chamber in its legislature.) The smaller upper chamber is always called the Senate, and its members generally serve longer terms, usually four years. The larger lower chamber is most often called the House of Representatives, but some states call it the Assembly or the House of Delegates. Its members usually serve shorter terms, often two years.
State judicial branches are usually led by the State supreme court, which hears appeals from lower-level State courts. Court structures and judicial appointments/elections are determined either by legislation or the State constitution. The supreme court focuses on correcting errors made in lower courts and therefore holds no trials. Rulings made in State supreme courts are normally binding; however, when questions are raised regarding consistency with the U.S. Constitution, matters may be appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court.
Local governments generally include two tiers: counties, also known as boroughs in Alaska and parishes in Louisiana, and municipalities, or cities/towns. In some States, counties are divided into townships. Municipalities can be structured in many ways, as defined by State constitutions, and are called, variously, townships, villages, boroughs, cities, or towns. Various kinds of districts also provide functions in local government outside county or municipal boundaries, such as school districts or fire protection districts.
Municipal governments—those defined as cities, towns, boroughs (except in Alaska), villages, and townships—are generally organized around a population center and in most cases correspond to the geographical designations used by the United States Census Bureau for reporting of housing and population statistics. Municipalities vary greatly in size, from the millions of residents of New York City and Los Angeles to the few hundred people who live in Jenkins, Minnesota.
Municipalities generally take responsibility for parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, municipal courts, transportation services (including public transportation), and public works (streets, sewers, snow removal, signage, and so forth).
Whereas the Federal Government and State governments share power in countless ways, a local government must be granted power by the State. In general, mayors, city councils, and other governing bodies are directly elected by the people.
The Legislative Branch | The White House
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The Legislative Branch
The Executive Branch
The Judicial Branch
Elections and Voting
State and Local Government
Established by Article I of the Constitution, the Legislative Branch consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate, which together form the United States Congress. The Constitution grants Congress the sole authority to enact legislation and declare war, the right to confirm or reject many Presidential appointments, and substantial investigative powers.
The House of Representatives is made up of 435 elected members, divided among the 50 states in proportion to their total population. In addition, there are 6 non-voting members, representing the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and four other territories of the United States: American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. The presiding officer of the chamber is the Speaker of the House, elected by the Representatives. He or she is third in the line of succession to the Presidency.
Members of the House are elected every two years and must be 25 years of age, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and a resident of the state (but not necessarily the district) they represent.
The House has several powers assigned exclusively to it, including the power to initiate revenue bills, impeach federal officials, and elect the President in the case of an Electoral College tie.
The Senate is composed of 100 Senators, 2 for each state. Until the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, Senators were chosen by state legislatures, not by popular vote. Since then, they have been elected to six-year terms by the people of each state. Senators’ terms are staggered so that about one-third of the Senate is up for reelection every two years. Senators must be 30 years of age, U.S. citizens for at least nine years, and residents of the state they represent.
The Vice President of the United States serves as President of the Senate and may cast the decisive vote in the event of a tie in the Senate.
The Senate has the sole power to confirm those of the President’s appointments that require consent, and to provide advice and consent to ratify treaties. There are, however, two exceptions to this rule: the House must also approve appointments to the Vice Presidency and any treaty that involves foreign trade. The Senate also tries impeachment cases for federal officials referred to it by the House.
In order to pass legislation and send it to the President for his or her signature, both the House and the Senate must pass the same bill by majority vote. If the President vetoes a bill, they may override his veto by passing the bill again in each chamber with at least two-thirds of each body voting in favor.
The Legislative Process
The first step in the legislative process is the introduction of a bill to Congress. Anyone can write it, but only members of Congress can introduce legislation. Some important bills are traditionally introduced at the request of the President, such as the annual federal budget. During the legislative process, however, the initial bill can undergo drastic changes.
After being introduced, a bill is referred to the appropriate committee for review. There are 17 Senate committees, with 70 subcommittees, and 23 House committees, with 104 subcommittees. The committees are not set in stone, but change in number and form with each new Congress as required for the efficient consideration of legislation. Each committee oversees a specific policy area, and the subcommittees take on more specialized policy areas. For example, the House Committee on Ways and Means includes subcommittees on Social Security and Trade.
A bill is first considered in a subcommittee, where it may be accepted, amended, or rejected entirely. If the members of the subcommittee agree to move a bill forward, it is reported to the full committee, where the process is repeated again. Throughout this stage of the process, the committees and subcommittees call hearings to investigate the merits and flaws of the bill. They invite experts, advocates, and opponents to appear before the committee and provide testimony, and can compel people to appear using subpoena power if necessary.
If the full committee votes to approve the bill, it is reported to the floor of the House or Senate, and the majority party leadership decides when to place the bill on the calendar for consideration. If a bill is particularly pressing, it may be considered right away. Others may wait for months or never be scheduled at all.
When the bill comes up for consideration, the House has a very structured debate process. Each member who wishes to speak only has a few minutes, and the number and kind of amendments are usually limited. In the Senate, debate on most bills is unlimited — Senators may speak to issues other than the bill under consideration during their speeches, and any amendment can be introduced. Senators can use this to filibuster bills under consideration, a procedure by which a Senator delays a vote on a bill — and by extension its passage — by refusing to stand down. A supermajority of 60 Senators can break a filibuster by invoking cloture, or the cession of debate on the bill, and forcing a vote. Once debate is over, the votes of a simple majority pass the bill.
A bill must pass both houses of Congress before it goes to the President for consideration. Though the Constitution requires that the two bills have the exact same wording, this rarely happens in practice. To bring the bills into alignment, a Conference Committee is convened, consisting of members from both chambers. The members of the committee produce a conference report, intended as the final version of the bill. Each chamber then votes again to approve the conference report. Depending on where the bill originated, the final text is then enrolled by either the Clerk of the House or the Secretary of the Senate, and presented to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate for their signatures. The bill is then sent to the President.
When receiving a bill from Congress, the President has several options. If the President agrees substantially with the bill, he or she may sign it into law, and the bill is then printed in the Statutes at Large. If the President believes the law to be bad policy, he or she may veto it and send it back to Congress. Congress may override the veto with a two-thirds vote of each chamber, at which point the bill becomes law and is printed.
There are two other options that the President may exercise. If Congress is in session and the President takes no action within 10 days, the bill becomes law. If Congress adjourns before 10 days are up and the President takes no action, then the bill dies and Congress may not vote to override. This is called a pocket veto, and if Congress still wants to pass the legislation, they must begin the entire process anew.
Powers of Congress
Congress, as one of the three coequal branches of government, is ascribed significant powers by the Constitution. All legislative power in the government is vested in Congress, meaning that it is the only part of the government that can make new laws or change existing laws. Executive Branch agencies issue regulations with the full force of law, but these are only under the authority of laws enacted by Congress. The President may veto bills Congress passes, but Congress may also override a veto by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Article I of the Constitution enumerates the powers of Congress and the specific areas in which it may legislate. Congress is also empowered to enact laws deemed “necessary and proper” for the execution of the powers given to any part of the government under the Constitution.
Part of Congress’s exercise of legislative authority is the establishment of an annual budget for the government. To this end, Congress levies taxes and tariffs to provide funding for essential government services. If enough money cannot be raised to fund the government, then Congress may also authorize borrowing to make up the difference. Congress can also mandate spending on specific items: legislatively directed spending, commonly known as “earmarks,” specifies funds for a particular project, rather than for a government agency.
Both chambers of Congress have extensive investigative powers, and may compel the production of evidence or testimony toward whatever end they deem necessary. Members of Congress spend much of their time holding hearings and investigations in committee. Refusal to cooperate with a congressional subpoena can result in charges of contempt of Congress, which could result in a prison term.
The Senate maintains several powers to itself: It consents to the ratification of treaties by a two-thirds supermajority vote and confirms the appointments of the President by a majority vote. The consent of the House of Representatives is also necessary for the ratification of trade agreements and the confirmation of the Vice President.
Congress also holds the sole power to declare war.
Oversight of the executive branch is an important Congressional check on the President’s power and a balance against his or her discretion in implementing laws and making regulations.
One primary way that Congress conducts oversight is through hearings. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs are both devoted to overseeing and reforming government operations, and each committee conducts oversight in its policy area.
Congress also maintains an investigative organization, the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Founded in 1921 as the General Accounting Office, its original mission was to audit the budgets and financial statements sent to Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Today, the GAO audits and generates reports on every aspect of the government, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent with the effectiveness and efficiency that the American people deserve.
The Executive Branch also polices itself: Sixty-four Inspectors General, each responsible for a different agency, regularly audit and report on the agencies to which they are attached.
US State Plane—Help
- Projection Method
- Why use State Plane?
- What is a State Plane?
- State Plane and North American Datum
- Unit of Length
- Zone Definition Examples
- Usage Areas
Also known as SPCS, SPC, State Plane, and State. The US State Planned Coordinate System is not a projection. It is a coordinate system that divides the 50 US states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands into more than 120 numbered sections called zones. Each zone has a code number assigned to it, which determines the projection parameters for a particular region.
Projection can be cylindrical or conical.
- Learn more about the methodology and properties of the Lambert Conformal Conic
- Learn more about the methodology and properties of the Transverse Mercator
- Learn more about the methodology and properties of the Mercator projection in Khotin’s version
Why use State Plane?
US government organizations and the groups that work with them primarily use the National Plan Coordinate System. Most often these are databases of districts or municipalities. The advantage to using SPCS is that your data is in the same standard coordinate system as other databases in the same area.
What is a State Plane?
The US National Plan coordinate system was developed for large-scale mapping of the United States. It was created in the 1930s by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey to provide a unified referencing system for surveyors and cartographers. The aim was to develop a conformal mapping system for the country, in which the maximum scale distortion would be 1:10000, which corresponded to the accuracy of geodetic surveys.
Three conformal projections were chosen: Lambert Conformal Conic for east-west elongated states such as Tennessee and Kentucky; Transverse Mercator for north-south states such as Illinois and Vermont; and the Oblique Mercator projection for the Alaska Peninsula, since it lies at an angle to the grid lines.
- Learn more about Lambert Conformal Conic
- Learn more about Transverse Mercator
- More details about the oblique Mercator projection in Khotin’s version
To obtain an accuracy of one ten-thousandth, it was necessary to divide many states into zones. Each zone has its own central meridian or standard parallels to maintain the required level of accuracy. The boundaries of these zones correspond to the boundaries of the states. For small states like Connecticut, only one zone is enough, while Alaska consists of 10 zones, and all three projections are used for its mapping.
This coordinate system is referred to here as the 1927 US State Planned Coordinate System (SPCS 27). It is based on a network of geodetic control points correlated to the 1927 North American Datum (NAD 1927 or NAD27).
State Plane and North American Datum
Technological advances over the past 50 years have improved methods for measuring distances, angles, and the size and shape of the Earth. All this, along with the shift of the origin of the datum from Mides Ranch in Kansas to the center of mass of the Earth for comparability with data received from satellite systems, led to the need to redefine SPCS 27. The redefined and modernized system is called the US National Planned Coordinate System 1983 years» (SPCS 83). The coordinates of points in the SPCS 27 and SPCS 83 coordinate systems are different. There are several reasons for this. For the SPCS 83 coordinate system, all State Plane coordinates published by NGS (US National Geodetic Survey) are given in metric units,
SPCS zones are officially identified by their NGS code When Esri implemented the NGS codes, they were part of the envisioned Federal Information Processing system Standard — FIPS. For this reason, Esri defines NGS zones as FIPS zones. The proposed standard has been retired, but Esri retains the FIPS name for continuity.
The even older Bureau of Land Management (BLM) system is sometimes used. The BLM system is outdated and does not include codes for some of the new zones. Values may also overlap. Always use NGS/FIPS codes.
The following zone changes have been made to transition between SPCS 27 and SPCS 83. The zone numbers below are FIPS zone numbers. In addition, the X and Y offsets, or the origin of most zones, have changed.
- California-California zone 7, SPCS 27 FIPS zone 0407 has been retired and incorporated into California zone 5, SPCS 83 FIPS zone 0405.
- Montana — Three zones for Montana, SPCS 27 FIPS zones 2501, 2502, and 2503 have been abolished and replaced by a single zone, SPCS 83 FIPS zone 2500.
- Nebraska — Two of Nebraska’s zones, SPCS 27 FIPS zones 2601 and 2602, have been abolished and replaced by a single zone, SPCS 83 FIPS zone 2600.
- South Carolina — Two South Carolina Zones, SPCS 27 FIPS Zone 3901 and 3902 were abolished and replaced by a single zone, SPCS 83 FIPS zone 3900.
- Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands — two zones of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including St. Thomas, St. John and Santa Cruz SPCS 27 FIPS zones 5201 and 5202 have been abolished and replaced by a single zone, SPCS 83 FIPS zone 5200.
Unit of length
The standard unit for SPCS 27 is US survey feet. For the SPCS 83 system, the most commonly used unit of measurement is the meter. There are two U.S. to change between feet and meters. Those states that support both feet and meters have legislated what conversion factor between feet and meters they use. The difference between measurements in two different metric systems can be reduced to two millionths, but this can be noticeable in cases where the data is stored with a double standard of accuracy. The US survey foot is equal to 1200/3937 m, or 0.3048006096 m. The international foot is 0.3048 m.
Wands for determining zones
are two examples of determining the parameters SPCS 83:
9009 9009 9009 9009 9009 Alabama
The political system of the United States is defined by the 1787 Constitution, as well as constitutional amendments and other laws. The Constitution delegates the power to exercise state power to the US Federal Government. The United States Constitution establishes the principle of separation of powers, according to which the Federal Government consists of legislative, executive and judicial branches, acting separately from each other. At the moment, the Constitution consists of a preamble, which identifies 85 main goals for the adoption of the Constitution, 7 articles and 27 amendments (the first 10 of which form the Bill of Rights).
The highest legislative body is a bicameral parliament — the US Congress: the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.
Each state has exactly two representatives in the Senate (senators). The number of representatives in the House of Representatives from each state is determined every 10 years depending on the population of each state (the larger the population, the more representatives). Every state has at least one representative, regardless of population.
Senators are elected for a six-year term, representatives every two years for a two-year term. Both senators and representatives can be re-elected an unlimited number of times.
Executive branch of government
President of the United States — head of state, government, commander in chief of the armed forces.
The President of the United States is elected for a four-year term, and can hold office for no more than two terms (according to the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution, adopted in 1951).
The president and vice president are elected through indirect (two-stage) elections by an electoral college.
In January 2009, Barack Obama, who won the 2008 presidential election, took over as president.
Powers of the US President:
- Supreme Commander of the US Armed Forces,
- high representative of the country in the international arena,
- appointment of federal judges, including justices of the Supreme Court, ambassadors, and senior executive officials
- convocation of extraordinary sessions of Congress,
- pardon of persons convicted under federal laws,
- emergency powers in internal and external crisis situations,
- formation of the legislative program of the administration (messages to Congress),
- presentation of the budget to Congress,
- issuance of presidential orders having the force of law. etc.
Main article: Primaries
The primaries are a primary election procedure for applicants for elective office in the US legislative and executive branch.
In the United States, parties are involved in the organization of the election campaign. They have the experience, apparatus, finances, connections and everything necessary to promote their candidates. Therefore, in order to have a realistic chance of winning an election, a candidate usually has to be supported by one of the two major parties. Sometimes independent candidates also succeed, but this rarely happens. For the support of parties, especially such influential ones as the Republican and Democratic ones, several contenders usually fight for the nomination to elective posts. Primaries were created for their democratic choice.
Compared to Europe and some other countries, the ideological component of parties is much less pronounced.
At the same time, for some groups of voters, the personal candidacy of a candidate does not play a big role — the party to which he belongs is primarily important. In states traditionally dominated by one party, the candidate who wins that party’s primary election is almost guaranteed to win the main election as well, and it is in these states’ primaries that the major contestants fight.
Wisconsin (1903) was the first state to pass a primary law. Before the system of primaries was established in the country, candidates were selected at party congresses.
The primaries, in fact, arose as a reaction of voters to the attempts of party leaders to take the process of nominating candidates out of the control of ordinary party members.
By 1927, all the states had already passed laws on the mandatory holding of such elections. Primaries are used to select candidates for local elections, as well as to nominate candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States Congress and the State Congresses.
State laws determine whether only registered party members (closed primaries) or all voters (open primaries) are eligible to participate in the primary.
The nomination of presidential candidates is carried out at party congresses, but since 1968, congresses have not elected, but in fact only approved the candidacy of the leader, who was supported by the majority of party members in the primaries.
The highest court in the United States is the Supreme Court. Theoretically, its competence is strictly limited by the US Constitution (Article III, section 2  ). Thus, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court includes cases arising on the basis of the Constitution, laws adopted by the Congress of the United States and international treaties. The court can also hear cases concerning ambassadors, admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. Additionally, the court may consider cases in which one of the parties is the United States; cases between two or more states; cases between any state and citizens of another state, between citizens of different states and countries. In fact, the Supreme Court has enormous power, as its decisions can formally invalidate any laws and presidential decrees and can only be overturned by a constitutional amendment. In addition, members of the court are elected for life (with the exception of the extremely rare cases of impeachment) and practically cannot be subject to political pressure from the president, congress or voters. Court 9members, its chairman, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, has little additional authority. The members of the court (as well as the candidate for chief justice, even if he is already a member of the court) are nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate.
As a rule, the Senate recognizes the right of the President to nominate a judge of the same views as the President himself, even if the Senate is controlled by the opposition. However, in this case, the candidate must adhere to mainly centrist views, at least in public. This right of the president is one of the main arguments voters cite as the reason they voted for a personally unpleasant (but ideologically correct) presidential candidate.
The power of the supreme court is limited by the fact that in most cases the court can only hear appeals to lawsuits. This means, in particular, that in order for the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional, anyone whose rights are infringed by this law must sue the federal government and the claim must go through all the necessary instances.
59 (Alaska and Hawaii).
Each state has its own constitution, legislature, governor, supreme court and capital. The administrative divisions of the states are spelled out in their constitutions. Like Congress, state legislatures are bicameral (except for Nebraska) and, in most states, are modeled after the US Congress. Also modeled after the federal Congress, the lower house is usually called the House of Representatives and the upper house is the Senate. In a number of states, the lower houses are also called the general assemblies or the houses of delegates.
Generally, the state legislature is elected to a two-year term; its specific duration and the number of chambers vary greatly from state to state.
The procedure for the formation of branches of government in the states is largely similar to the federal one, with the exception of the judiciary. In 8 states, chief justices are appointed by the governor, in 4 they are elected by the state legislature.
At the same time, in 16 states supreme judges are not appointed, but are elected for long terms in non-partisan elections, in 7 — in party elections. In addition, 15 states follow the «Missouri Plan» ( en:Missouri Plan ), under which chief justices are nominated by a special committee and approved by the governor. This commission consists partly of professional lawyers, members of the bar, partly of citizens selected by the governor. In 3 states, the «Missouri Plan» has been modified.
The specific term and number of Chief Justices varies from state to state in accordance with the local constitution.
Each state is headed by a governor elected by the people of the state. In most states, the governor can be elected for no more than two four-year terms (the number of terms is not limited in the states of Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin). At the moment, the incumbent Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, who was elected to this post back in 2000, can be considered the record holder for the length of service.
In parallel, a lieutenant governor ( lieutenant governor ) is elected, who may belong to another political party. In the states of Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming, local constitutions do not provide for the position of lieutenant governor, and the corresponding functions are assigned to the president of the state senate. In addition, in the states of Tennessee and West Virginia, lieutenant governors are chosen by the state senate.
The basis for building the state system in the US is that it is built from the states to the federation, and not vice versa, and each state has full sovereignty in its territory, with the exception of what has been transferred to the federal government. Therefore, the states make their own laws and have their own taxes, and the constitutions of many states are much longer and more detailed than the US Constitution. However, the Constitution and state laws must not conflict with the US Constitution.
Thus, US law has two main levels: state and federal. According to statistics, up to 27.5 million cases are heard in state courts each year, while only 280,000 are heard in federal courts. The total number of levels of the judiciary varies from state to state. In particular, the state of Texas has 5 levels of courts (magistrates, municipal courts, county courts, district courts and courts of appeal), and the state has two highest courts of appeal at the same time — the Supreme Court of Texas and the Court of Criminal Appeals of the State of Texas.
Referendums are held in some states.
Louisiana has Romano-Germanic law, while the rest of the states have English (Common Law).
Everything is within the jurisdiction of the states, except what has been transferred to the jurisdiction of the federal government. The federal government is responsible for areas such as education, including funding and administration of public schools and universities, building transportation infrastructure, issuing business and professional licenses, public order and criminal justice, issuing driver’s licenses and marriage licenses, supervising publicly funded hospitals and nursing homes, park management, oversight of elections (including federal elections), leadership of the state national guard. In most states, budgets are required to be balanced, with the exception of special situations listed in the State Constitution.
The most typical administrative divisions of the states are counties and cities. These districts also have their own statutes, legislative, judicial and executive authorities, which are formed through elections. Although each of the self-government bodies is relatively small in size, their total number is such that out of half a million elected officials in the United States, less than 8,500 belong to the federal and state level. The rest work in local governments. In many counties, the sheriff, prosecutor, judge, magistrate, medical examiner, tax administrator, and comptroller are elected positions. City councils and mayors are elected in cities. In some districts and cities, the highest powers of executive power are concentrated in the hands of a professional manager, who is appointed (that is, hired) by the representative bodies of self-government.
In addition to counties and cities, there are special state divisions that are responsible for water supply, water and natural resource conservation, fire safety, emergency assistance, transportation, and are funded by separate taxes. Their leadership is in some cases elected, in others appointed by the state authorities. Public schools are administered by the respective school district’s boards of education, which are either elected or trustees.
In 33 of the 50 states, the capital is not in the most populated city. For example, the state capital of California is not in Los Angeles, but in Sacramento, and the state capital of New York is in Albany.
Main article: US political parties
US politics has been a prime example of a two-party system since the mid-19th century. The Republican Party of the United States, the Democratic Party of the United States, as well as various less influential federal and regional parties participate in the political life of the United States.
The two major parties control both the United States Congress and the Legislatures of all the states. Also, Democrats and Republicans win presidential elections and in most cases the elections of state governors and mayors of cities. Third parties only occasionally achieve a small representation at the federal and state levels, most often not being able to really influence politics even at the local level.
Only a few states have parties with real influence on regional politics (eg the Vermont Progressive Party), and independent candidates have some chance at the regional and federal levels. The current 110th Congress has two independent senators and no independent members of the House of Representatives.
Third parties, as well as independents, have been and continue to be a recurring, characteristic, but largely uninfluential force in American electoral life. Virtually all third-party powers at the federal level tended to prosper in just one election and then die, fade away, or be absorbed into one of the major parties.
In presidential elections since the beginning of the 20th century, low-influenced and mostly short-lived «third» parties and forces only occasionally achieved at least relatively significant results: second place, 27% and 88 electors in 1912 (Progressive Party), 19% and 0 electors in 1992 (independent Ross Perot), 17% and 23 electors in 1924 (Progressive Party), 14% and 46 electors in 1968 (Independent Party).
However, there is evidence that these parties can have a significant impact on election results. For example, the nomination of Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 as a third-party candidate (the Progressive Party) during a split in the Republican Party robbed the Republicans of the vote and thereby allowed the Democrat Woodrow Wilson to be elected, although he did not receive a majority of the popular vote. And in the elections 19For 92 years, Democrat Bill Clinton, who also did not receive a majority of the votes, outpaced the Republican rival, thanks in large part to the presence of a strong third independent candidate, Ross Perot.
The 1910s were the time of the end of the so-called. «Fourth Party System» and «Progressive Era» (eng. Progressive Era ) and were distinguished by high social activity  , and they can also be called a crisis of the US two-party system. “The crisis of the two-party system was expressed in the fact that the candidate of the third, progressive party, Theodore Roosevelt, received more votes in the elections than one of the parties of the two-party system (Republican), an extremely rare case in American political practice.” But very soon found herself in the elections 1912 years of the second (27% versus 42% and 23%) the Progressive Party re-entered the Republican Party.
Also, the beginning of the 20th century gave a chance to become a real third force in the US party system of the Socialist Party. In the same elections of 1912, as well as in the elections of 1920, the Socialist Party achieved its biggest success when about 1 million voters voted for it, including the widest range of democratic demands in the electoral program. But it split during the First World War.
Since the 1990s, public opinion polls have consistently shown high levels of popular support for the concept of a third party, but not for any of the existing third parties. In the presidential election of 1992, personifying the idea of a third force, independent candidate Ross Perot received the highest result since 1912 (about 19% of the vote). In the lead-up to the 2000 election, one poll found that 67% of Americans favored some kind of strong third party that would nominate their own candidates for president, congressional and state elections to compete with Republican and Democratic candidates. parties.
Despite various manifestations of potential third party support, there are serious obstacles to electing a third party candidate as president. Apart from those already mentioned, the most significant obstacle is the voters’ fear that they will lose their votes needlessly. As practice shows, voters resort to strategic voting, changing their initial decision and giving their votes to whom they would like to give them when they realize that the third party candidate has no chance of winning.