How many people do you elect?

In this thread, obfusciatrist provided the list of elected officials he can vote for:

Now I was aware that Americans vote for a staggering number of different elected officials, but this actual list from an individual American really brings it right home. (That, and when you see news photos of ballots that look like broadsheet newspapers.) I’m a complete political dork and even I couldn’t deal with all of that.

The following, by contrast, is a list of the elected officials for whom I am entitled to vote:

– Member of Parliament for the riding of Jeanne-Le Ber
– Member of the National Assembly for the riding of Verdun
– Mayor of Montreal
– Mayor of the borough of Verdun
– City Councillor for the district of Desmarchais-Crawford
– Borough Councillor 1 for the district of Desmarchais-Crawford
– Borough Councillor 2 for the district of Desmarchais-Crawford
– Commissioner for the Verdun-Centre (21) district of the Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys

  1. I’m pretty sure that’s it. (The five municipal votes, by the way, are unique to my borough and one neighbouring one. All the other boroughs have fewer positions.)

I wonder: 1) if the US is the country in the world with the largest number of electable positions per citizen; 2) who YOU can vote for.

At the Commonwealth level:

  • 1 member of the House of Representatives for my federal electorate (North Sydney);
  • 12 Senators for my state (NSW), although usually only 6 senators are chosen at any one election;

At the state level (NSW):

  • 1 member of the Legislative Assembly for my state electorate (North Shore);
  • 42 members of the Legislative Council, although only 21 are chosen at any one election;

At the local government level (North Sydney council):

  • 3 councillors for my local ward (Victoria ward);
  • the mayor of North Sydney.

If you count the individual representatives, then the total is 60. But that’s inflated hugely by the fact that Senators and Legislative Councillors represent the whole of their state. At elections for the Senate and the Legislative Council I cast only one vote, but my preferences are used to elect multiple candidates, via the STV voting system.

  • The 11 Councilors of the town where I live (in turn, they elect the Mayor and Secretary). Some towns have more, some have less. These are chosen using the list model.

  • The 50 Parlament Members of my Autonomous Region. Again, this goes by lists. They choose their own President and the President of the Region; if they can’t agree, the Head (number one) of the most-voted list becomes President of the Region; this is a Navarrese peculiarity, in other Regions the period of disagreement can be a lot longer and would end up representing new elections (it’s happened in Euskadi for example, which is just next door and the guys with the legal system most similar to ours).

  • The 3 Senators representing my province. These are chosen individually.

  • The I-think-4 National Parlament members representing my region; the number varies, as does the total number. The minimum for each Province is 2 and for the Autonomous Cities 1. List.

  • However-many EU Parliament members Spain gets (yeah, I’m lazy). List.
    Under the “list” model, different parties present lists and you must vote for the whole list. If they get 2 seat, it goes to the list’s number one; 2 seats, the first 2 people, etc. I prefer to choose individuals, but the model is not likely to change soon.

One vote for the Knesset (and by implication, for Prime Minister); 120 MKs, 1 PM.

One vote for mayor.

One vote for city council; 30 council members.

To be fair, I live in a much smaller country than most of you do.

In Thailand my wife votes in formal elections for

  • Member of Parliament
  • Provincial councilman
  • Subdistrict Chief
  • Subdistrict Chief of Development
  • Village Headman
  • Village Development Official x2

If we lived a mile further west, we’d be in a municipality and she’d also vote for

  • Municipal councilpersons, x?

(Some subdistrict and village chiefs, though not ours, have life-terms. That’s one reason the parallel Development system came into existence.)

In the UK I vote for:

1 x County Councillor
1 x District Councillor
1 x Member of Parliament
1 x Member of European Parliament

Technically we can also vote for Parish Councils, but generally these are no over-subscribed so anyone who volunteers gets in without a vote.

Boy, let’s see…

[li]President[/li][li]Vice President[/li][li]Senator[/li][li]Senator[/li][li]Congressman[/li][li]Governor[/li][li]Lt. Governor[/li][li]Sec of State[/li][li]State Auditor[/li][li]State Treasurer[/li][li]Attorney General[/li][li]State Supreme Court[/li][li]State Supreme Court[/li][li]State Supreme Court[/li][li]State Supreme Court[/li][li]State Supreme Court[/li][li]State Supreme Court[/li][li]State Supreme Court[/li][li]State Representative[/li][li]State Senator[/li][li]Mayor[/li][li]City Council - Ward 2[/li][li]City Council - At Large[/li][li]City Council - At Large[/li][li]City Council - At Large[/li][li]City Treasurer[/li][li]City Auditor[/li][li]City Law Director[/li][li]City Engineer[/li][li]Municipal Court Judge[/li][li]County Commissioner[/li][li]County Commissioner[/li][li]County Commissioner[/li][li]County Treasurer[/li][li]County Auditor[/li][li]County Recorder[/li][li]County Engineer[/li][li]County Prosecutor[/li][li]County Clerk of Courts[/li][li]County Coroner[/li][li]Common Pleas Judge[/li][li]Common Pleas Judge[/li][li]Juvenile Court Judge[/li][li]Sheriff[/ol][/li]
Let’s see…if I lived out in the county I’d have Trustees but I live in the city. And I feel certain I’m missing some somewhere.


Yes, our government in the US is too large.

I’m in the US and have a similarly long list…It’s really not all that bad. The ballots are available ahead of time, so I generally print off the ballot (gotta love the internet) and take my time researching and learning as much as I can, so by the time I get to the booth, it’s just a matter of punching the screen a number of times. If there is an office that I know nothing about or can’t find information about the people running, I do not vote for that particular office. But I don’t really mind the process at all.

ETA: I actually like it because you can elect a republican mayor, but a democratic sheriff (for example). More choice, i guess.


I’m not allowed to vote in the US because I’m not a citizen, and I’m not allowed to vote in Canada because I’m not a resident.

My opinions don’t matter to anyone!

Less than you Matt. Starting at the top:

1 - Member of Parliament (Carleton-Mississippi Mills)
2 - Member of Provincial parliament (Carleton-Mississippi Mills)
3 - Mayor (Ottawa)
4 - City of Ottawa Councillor (Ward 5 West Carleton-March)
5 - School Board Trustee (West Carleton-March/Stittsville-Kanata West Rideau-Goulbourn/Osgoode)

Some of you people actually vote for 30 to 40 positions? Get out the dart board.

South African here.

The only ballot where I vote directly for an individual is the election of a ward councillor to the City Council.

At a general election I have two ballots: one for the National Assembly and one for the Provincial Parliament. On each of those I choose a party, not an individual. MPs and MPPs are then chosen from the party’s lists proportionally to the votes cast for that party.

At a municipal election I also have two ballots: one for the aforementioned ward councillor, and the other for a party. Half of the city councillors are directly elected ward representatives, and the other half are chosen from party lists so that the overall balance of seats is proportional to the votes cast for the parties.

All of the leaders (President, Provincial Premier, Mayor) are elected by the corresponding legislatures, not directly.

If I didn’t live in the big city, I’d have three ballots at a municipal election: one for a ward councillor, one party vote for the local council, and another party vote for the district council (which is a bit like a US county). But in the big cities we have metropolitan councils which are unitary local authorities.

A variety of officials at the city, county, state, and national levels including officials, judges, legislators and executives. I’m sure my list is as long as the other Americans here have listed.

I’m a political nerd, but at least half the time I have no idea who I’m voting for at the local level – it’s not like they have extensive media campaigns. Fortunately most candidates now have websites so you can glean at least a little bit of information to make a semi-educated choice.

None. Not a US citizen and I’ve never registered to vote in the UK. Actually, I did vote for student bar rep last week. Also, Dancing With the Stars.

The issue is not that the government in the US is large: Other countries have people who do those things to. It’s just that they’re not elected; they’re appointed by the few people who are elected.

For example, one of the items mentioned in the list given in the OP is member of the Water District. There are water districts in other countries to, but only in the US would that be considered an elected position.

I live in Illinois, where we elect everybody in sight so as to maximize opportunities for corruption. Here we go:

1 slate of electors for President & Vice-President
2 US Senators
1 US Representative
1 State Senator
1 State Representative
1 Governor
1 Lieutenant Governor
(runs tandem with Gov in general but not in primary)
1 Attorney General
1 Secretary of State
1 Comptroller
1 Treasurer
1 State’s Attorney
1 Coroner (YES!)
1 Circuit Court Clerk
1 County Recorder of Deeds
1 County Clerk
1 County Treasurer
1 County Sheriff
1 County Board Chairman
1 County Forest Preserve President
1 County Auditor
3 County Board Members
1 Forest Preserve District member
1 Village President
1 Village Clerk
1 Village trustee
1 Township Supervisor
1 Township Highway Commission member
4 Township Trustees
1 Township Clerk
1 Township Assessor
3 Fire District Trustees
7 Library District Trustees
1 Regional School Superintendent
7 Regional School Board Trustees
7 local School District members
7 high school District members
7 Community College trustees

In addition I am expected to be an expert on the performance of:

1 State Supreme Court justice
9 appellate court judges
15 circuit court judges

These must be elected when they fall vacant; otherwise I must vote on whether or not the incumbent should be retained.

Keep in mind that where I list multiple individuals above, these are not running as part of a party list. I am expected to vote for or against them as individuals.

No, I am not qualified to pass judgment on the performance of auditors, prosecutors, school superintendents, or coroners. Yes, this is an outrage that our system of government expects me to do so. No, there is nothing I can do about it.

Couldn’t you just get Rod Blagojevich to appoint someone?

I honestly don’t know. I live in a small city in the US, and I just vote whenever these folks come up in the same manner as pyromyte. I do find it overwhelming at times.

I suspect my list is the same as or similar to obfusciatrist.

According to my county’s website, the following offices are up for election in 2010:

United States Senator
United States House of Representatives

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Attorney General
State Senator
House of Delegates
Judge of the Circuit Court
Judge of the Court of Special Appeals*
Judge of the Court of Appeals*
* For retention in office. Only on General Election Ballot


* County Commisioners
* County Treasurer
* State's Attorney
* Clerk of the Circuit Court
* Register of Wills
* Judges of the Orphan's Court
* Sheriff
* Board of Education*
    * 2 At-Large seats available.

Town Council

This is one of blogger Matt Yglesias’ favorite axes to grind, that we elect people to more offices than most of us are ever going to be able to have an educated opinion about. And he’s totally right about that.

First of all, the election of judges is, quite frankly, an abomination before the Lord. Not only do I, as a citizen, have an extremely poor idea about what sort of job they’re doing, chances are that if I did have an opinion, it would be based on one or two controversial cases. And if judges’ tenure is dependent on deciding controversial cases the way the crowd would, then there’s no such thing as an independent judiciary. Let the governor appoint state judges, with the advice and consent of the legislature, just like they do at the Federal level.

Second, I really will never know whether minor functionaries such as the Register of Wills or the Clerk of the Circuit Court are doing a good job, and the idea that one’s qualifications for such positions are related to party (they run as Democrats and Republicans) is absurd. The County Commissioners, or the county executive, should be appointing these people.

And sheriff?? Again, let the county or town council appoint the county or town sheriff. Let me elect people to run my county and town, and let them make all the decisions about all these other offices. That should be their job, and it’s one they can pay a lot more attention to than most voters ever will.