The American voting system elects legislators based on one geographical district; by majority or plurality (whoever gets the most votes in that district wins). The districts are whole states for Senators and parts of states for House members. This is known as the “First-past-the-post” system.
In the parliamentary system, all legislators are elected at-large, meaning from the entire country’s electorate. Voters choose one party, and the party’s total votes determine how many legislative seats the party gets. The legislators are pre-determined on a list of party candidates. The Prime Minister is the person who is first on the list of the party which got the most votes.
The first-past-the-post system tends towards two parties, as we have in America. The parliamentary system favors multiple parties, since any party getting enough votes for even one seat, gets a voice in Parliament.
The 17th Amendment made it so U.S. Senators were directly elected by popular vote. Prior to 1913, Senators were appointed.
The President, of course, is still not elected by popular vote, but by the Electoral College. For example, in the presidential election of 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote but George Bush won the Electoral College vote.
BLACK VOTING RIGHTS
The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were passed following the Civil War, in the later 1860s. They outlawed slavery and extended civil rights and suffrage (voting rights) to former slaves. The LEGAL right to vote for African-Americans was established, but numerous restrictions kept many blacks from ACTUALLY voting until the 1960s Voting Rights Act.
WOMEN VOTING RIGHTS
The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in 1920. This amendment resulted from an international movement of “Suffragettes”. Women still lacked the right to vote in Switzerland until the 1970s, and as of 1990 women could not vote in Kuwait.
The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. This occurred in 1971, amid the Vietnam War, when 18-year-olds were routinely drafted and sent to war without the right to vote.