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There are now 50 states in the USA. Under the Constitution, the states delegated by many of their sovereign powers to the central government in Washington. But they kept many important powers for themselves. Each of the states, for example, retains the right to run its own public school system, to decide on the qualifications of its voters, to license its doctors and other professionals, to provide police protection for its citizens and to maintain its roads.

Under the Constitution, the federal government is divided into three branches, each chosen in a different manner, each able to check and balance the others.

The Executive Branch is headed by the President, who, together with the Vice-President, is chosen in nation-wide elections every four years. Americans vote for the states of professional electors equal to the number of Senators and Representatives each state has in Congress (a total of 535 persons). The candidate with the highest number of votes in each state wins all the electoral votes of that state. The presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes. Any natural-born American who is 35 years old or older may be elected to this office. The President proposes bills to Congress, enforces federal laws, serves as Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces and, with the approval of the Senate, makes treaties and appoints federal judges, ambassadors and other members of the Executive Departments. Each Cabinet head holds the title of Secretary and together they form a council called the Cabinet.The Vice-President, elected from the same political party as the President, acts as chairman of the Senate.

The Legislative Branch is made up of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The 435' Seats in the House of Representatives are allocated on the basis of population, although every state has at least one representative. Each state elects two members of the 100-member Senate, a Senator’s term of office is six years. Both two Houses must approve a bill for it to become law, but the President may veto or refuse to sign it. If so, Congress reconsiders the bill. If two-thirds of the members of both houses then approve it, the bill becomes law even without the President’s signature.

The Judicial Branch is made up of Federal District Court, 11 Federal Courts of Appeals and at the top the Supreme Court. In order to amend the Constitution, Congress must pass the proposed amendments by a two-third majority vote in each Houses and

three-fourths of the states must concur.

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