Primaries, Runoffs, and Generals: Understanding Elections

The May primary elections are less than 4 weeks away. Between the primary elections, runoff elections, special elections, and the November General Election, it’s no wonder people routinely express confusion over exactly what each election is and what their vote does.

As Election Day approaches, we thought it would be a good idea to type up a simple primer of what each election is and what it does. Whether you’re a student who is just learning about elections or an adult who missed some of the finer nuances of self-government in civics class, we hope you will find this brief primer helpful in understanding what is going on this year.

Primary Elections

Elections are held in even-number years (with a few exceptions, which we will mention shortly). In Arkansas, some elected officials serve two-year terms (like members of the Arkansas House of Representatives) while others serve four-year terms (like the Governor and members of the Arkansas Senate).


Photos from the Capitol Building Yesterday

Between the budget session, candidate filing, and a TeenPact gathering, a lot went on at the Arkansas Capitol Building yesterday. Below are a few photos just to give you an idea of the day’s events.


TeenPact is meeting this week at the State Capitol. Their leadership group paused for lunch in the Capitol Café. About 40 home schoolers are attending this year’s week-long seminar at the Capitol. This prestigious national program teaches home schoolers about the inner workings of government.


The Value of the Electoral College

America just wrapped up another presidential election, and in the wake of it a number of people are, once again, discussing the purpose of the Electoral College system. In recent times, many have asked whether it is time to start electing the President by popular vote only.

It’s an understandable question. In 2000, Al Gore won the national popular vote, but lost the election to George W. Bush thanks to the Electoral College, and this year President Obama’s 303 electoral votes looked like something of a landslide even though he barely squeaked by in virtually every battleground state. In Ohio, for instance, the President only received 50.1% of the vote, but that was all he needed to get all 18 of the state’s electoral votes. So with this in mind, would it be better for America to switch to a nationwide popular vote? The answer is no. Here’s why: