American Elections: How Long Is Too Long?

Uri Friedman in The Atlantic:

Lead_960By one measure, the U.S. presidential campaign will be 597 days old on Election Day in November. That’s 14,328 hours, for those accustomed to CNN’s Countdown Clock. Parents who were rocking a newborn when Ted Cruz declared his candidacy are now running after a toddler. In this timeframe, Emma Roller reckons in The New York Times, “we could have instead hosted approximately four Mexican elections, seven Canadian elections, 14 British elections, 14 Australian elections or 41 French elections.”

It’s difficult to say definitively that the United States has the longest election process in the world. Some countries have legally defined campaign periods—typically several weeks or months—while others do not. In parliamentary democracies such as Canada and the United Kingdom, the prime minister can call early elections, shaking up the timeline. And even in those nations with a fixed period for the official campaign, there is frequently an extended unofficial campaign. Yes, in the time that elapsed between Cruz announcing his presidential bid and Cruz endorsing Donald Trump, France technically could have elected 39 presidents. But that’s comparing pommes to oranges. France has a specified campaign length while the United States doesn’t. And in France, the unofficial campaign starts well before the two-week official campaign, especially now that French political parties are experimenting with U.S.-style primary elections.

More here.