In this week’s edition of the Observador Newsletter – Special American Elections, journalist João de Almeida Dias explains a particularity of the American electoral system and what its consequences: the long ballot that voters will face on November 3.

In Portugal, when we vote to choose the next President of the Republic or the Political Party we want to represent us in the Parliament, the ballot may be long, but the choice to make is just one: which one do we want?

It is true that in the United States party options are much more limited than in Portugal, at least in number. It may not just be Republicans or Democrats, but almost.

But next November 3rd there are voters who will face a long list of choices. When Americans head to the polls, they will to answer something close to a questionnaire of all the choices they want made, from who they want to be the next President of the United States, their local representatives for education, security, funding for firefighters and other entities, and so on.

In addition to the Presidency, there is, however, another choice that will prove decisive in the country’s path over the next four years. Of the 100 senators who are in office, more than a third will be fighting for a spot in the next Senate. That is, the upper house of Congress, through which the most important and structural decisions of American life are made, such as the judges for the U.S. Supreme Court, can see a shift of forces that would completely change the political landscape. Whatever the outcome, this is one of the most important elections in record.

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