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How US Gov't Works
Elected Offices

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There are three branches of government in the United States.

Executive - These persons are responsible for overseeing what occurs in their town, city, state, or the nation. They make changes in those areas where approval from an elected body or member of the judicial branch is not required, make appointments to certain offices, and make immediate alterations in certain activities that affect the citizens, such as closing schools for emergencies. The executive branch also participates in making laws.

1) they themselves draft laws and have them go through the process of being approved or disapproved by the legislative entities in the city, state or nation, or

2) by approving bills that are presented to them after having been approved by the legislative entity or entities that are responsible for doing do. A few examples of executive titles are governor, mayor, and the president of the United States. All of these persons are elected.

Legislative - The officials whose duty it is to make the laws that govern us. This branch also sets guidelines for penalties that are to be assigned for breaking the law. A few examples of legislative titles are city council members, assemblymen, congressmen, and senators. All of these persons are elected. The highest legislative bodies in the country are the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Judicial - These people determine when a law has been broken and it is their responsibility to assign penalties, such as fines, jail terms, or both, for breaking the law. All titles with the word “judge” are judicial titles. Some are elected and some are appointed.

People in the United States live in an area that is incorporated within the state in which it is located. As an incorporated entity the city, for example, has the right to govern itself. The titles for such incorporated entities are listed below:

•  hamlet
•  village
•  township
•  town
•  borough
•  city



Who the Voters Elect on Local, State and National Levels

Local Level - the people of the village, town, township or city directly elect people to various offices. There are many titles and not every municipality uses all of them (for definitions of these titles see Glossary of Elected Offices which is listed as Elected Offices in the menu on the top left side of this page):

•  Mayor
•  Councilman
•  District Leader
•  Assemblyman
•  County Executive
•  Sheriff
•  Alderman

State Level - the following offices are elected by popular vote of a state’s residents.

•  United States Senator
Lieutenant Governor
State Senator

Elected locally with national responsibilities.

•  Congressmen (or women)

National Level - the voters of all states elect the following persons.

•  President
•  Vice-President


The power of an elected official is not similar to the power of various supervisors in the workplace. For instance, in a company many executives can override the decisions of another executive without any consultation or vote. Many workplace executives cannot even propose an idea to company without approval from the person to he or she reports.

In electoral politics, although one official may have more authority and power than another, that does not mean that the official with less power reports to the higher official or he or she must do whatever the official with more power wants. For example the president is the highest elected official in the country, yet he cannot tell a governor, congressman, mayor, city council member or other state or local officials what to do. Neither does a mayor or an assemblyman have to do what a governor wants. The power one official has over another is usually exemplified in the signing or vetoing of bills, laws, that require the higher lawmaker's approval.

Elected officials, on paper and in theory, but not always in practice, are responsible to their constituents, the people they have been elected to serve and represent.

Many countries that have a democratic form of government have titles similar to the ones listed above.