Explainer: The basics of state and federal government

The federal government and the State of Arkansas both have three branches in their governments, and votes cast by Arkansans could affect the operations of both.

FEDERAL LEVEL

At the federal level, voters in Arkansas will help to choose the next President, who will serve for the next four years as the de-facto chief executive officer of the United States government, supervising the executive branch and all of the various programs that fall under the authority of his or her cabinet secretaries.

Voters in Arkansas have eight separate options when voting for president this year. Presidential candidates come packaged with their vice presidential candidate.

Whoever is selected as president will give an extreme advantage to the political party that they represent through their role as the head of the executive branch.

A large part of the congressional delegation from Arkansas will also be chosen in this election. All four members of the House of Representatives from Arkansas are up for re-election this year. One of two senators from the state will also be decided.

Republicans earned the majority in the Senate in the 2014 election, but several news outlets have predicted that Democrats will retake the majority in this election. The House of Representatives, also currently controlled by Republicans, is less likely to return to a Democrat majority.

The majority control of each part of Congress comes into play when legislators are deciding on new legislation. The control of Congress can either help or hurt a president’s political agenda greatly, depending on whether his own party controls the one of both chambers of Congress.

STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The only state elected officials that are being decided by this election are various state representatives and senators, who comprise a state legislature that is somewhat similar in structure to the federal legislature.

Also of note are the constitutional amendments that are being proposed for the state constitution. There are seven such amendments that are on the ballot for this year (a breakdown of these can be found on page 3).

Various city and county officials are also being decided across the state.