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Voter Turnout POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote.

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Presentation on theme: "Voter Turnout POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote."— Presentation transcript:

1 Voter Turnout POLS 125: Political Parties & Elections A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election. Bill Vaughan

2 Voter Turnout in 2008 In November 2008, 131 million votes were cast for president. Is that number high or low Is that number high or low? It depends on how turnout is measured…

3 How Should We Measure Turnout? The voting-age population (VAP) includes non-citizens and felons who are ineligible to vote, and excludes expatriate citizens who could legally vote overseas. VAP estimates provide the lowest turnout levels because they underestimate actual turnout. The voting-eligible population (VEP) starts with the voting-age population, then subtracts disenfranchised felons and non-citizens, and adds citizens from overseas. VEP estimates of voting turnout are higher than VAP estimates. The number of registered voters includes only those legally registered to vote. This provides the highest rate of voter turnout. Turnout statistics can use any of three denominators:

4 131 million votes cast 231 million voting age citizens =57% voter turnout VAP VEP 131 million votes cast 213 million voting eligible citizens =62% voter turnout How Should We Measure Turnout? REG 131 million votes cast 172 million registered voters =76% voter turnout Fraud?

5 Turnout and the Census Bureau The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 64% of U.S. citizens voted in the 2004 presidential election (up from 60% in 2000). Also according to the Census Bureau, among those registered to vote, 89% (126 million) said they did. Both figures come from the Current Population Survey (CPS), and are therefore subject to both sampling and non-sampling error. For instance, the CPS estimate of overall turnout (125.7 million) differs from the official turnout, as reported by the Clerk of the House (122.3 million). Why? Because people lie and exaggerate in surveys, especially on something as socially desirable as voting behavior…

6 If voter turnout is low, compared to what? Compared to other countries Compared to historic rates of voter turnout in the United States

7 Voter Turnout in the United States Compared to Other Countries Source: International IDEA,

8 Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections,

9 Why Americans Dont Vote Changing definitions of the eligible electorate Registration requirements Poll taxes Literacy tests Psychological barriers to voting Legal barriers to voting Rational abstention Political efficacy and civic duty Political influences on turnout

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11 Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections, The 26 th Amendment grants year olds the right to vote The 19 th Amendment grants women the right to vote

12 Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections,

13 The Vanishing Voter Generational replacement Lack of competitive elections Weakening party loyalty Unsavory campaigns Negative news Patterson calls declining voter turnout the longest sustained downturn in American history. What factors have caused it?

14 This is all the more disturbing because turnout should have increased… Increasing educational attainment Removal of poll taxes and literacy tests Simplified registration procedures

15 How Should We Measure Turnout?

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17 Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections,

18 Increasing Voter Turnout OPTION #1: Do nothing. Once we use the appropriate measure (e.g., VEP), there is no problem. OPTION #2: Do nothing. Turnout may be low, but we dont want uneducated, uninformed people voting anyway. OPTION #3: Do nothing. Voter and non-voters have similar policy preferences, so it makes little difference OPTION #4: Do something! Voting by mail Voting early Internet voting Election day registration

19 Does Low Voter Turnout Matter? Smaller, more highly educated, less representative electorate? Larger, less well educated, more representative electorate? Should we prefer a:

20 Making It Too Easy to Vote? Jeff Jacoby, a staff writer for the Boston Globe, wrote the following essay in July, 1996 Universal suffrage? Im for that. Voting is right, not a privilege? Absolutely. No unreasonable barriers to voter registration? I agree. Government workers should go out of their way to sign up welfare recipients to vote? Hold it. Welfare recipients are people who dont work, dont pay taxes and dont support themselves. Of course there are exceptions, but as a grouplets face itthey are among the least educated, least productive, least responsible adults in America. Theyre also among the least likely to be interested in elections or to follow public debates. If in addition they dont bother to vote, we ought to be grateful. Why would anyone want to coax them into registering? …No one is disenfranchised in this country. Unlike the days of old, there are no poll taxes, literacy tests, gender barriers or property requirements to come between any citizen and the voting booth. If U.S. elections are marked by chronically low turnout, it is not because voters are kept away. They stay away. Some are apathetic, some are ignorant, some are simply self- centered. Why badger people to register? What would they bring to an election?… No welfare caseworkerno state employee, periodshould have to spoonfeed voting rights to anyone, least of all people on the dole. If they can figure out how to get food stamps, they can figure out how to get registered. They choose not to? So be it. American democracy wont suffer.

21 Increasing Voter Turnout OPTION #1: Do nothing. Once we use the appropriate measure (e.g., VEP), there is no problem. OPTION #2: Do nothing. Turnout may be low, but we dont want uneducated, uninformed people voting anyway. OPTION #3: Do nothing. Voter and non-voters have similar policy preferences, so it makes little difference OPTION #4: Do something! Voting by mail Voting early Internet voting Election day registration

22 Mobilizing the Vote Institutional context Motor-Voter Compulsory voting Election Day registration Voting by mail Internet voting Motivational strategies Personal canvassing (messenger vs. message) Social pressure Enduring personal traits and psychological orientations Socialization through programs such as Kids Voting USA

23 How Does Motor-Voter Work? 1.Simultaneous application for drivers license and voter registration 2.Mail application for voter registration 3.Application in person at certain government agencies, including public assistance offices and agencies that provided services to people with disabilities Widely known as Motor-Voter, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 is designed to encourage voter registration and to remove discriminatory and unfair obstacles to voter registration. As of January 1, 1995, the law requires states to register voters for federal elections in three specific ways, in addition to any other procedures they use currently for registering voters:

24 The Problem with Motor-Voter Voter Registration Voter Turnout Motivation and/or interest in politics

25 Increasing Voter Turnout Voting by Mail: Some countries extend the opportunity to vote by mail to those who are not away from their election district. Canada, Spain, The United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark will all send ballots to any interested citizen. Use of voting by mail services varies widely almost 40 percent use it in Finland, only four percent in the United Kingdom. In 1998, Oregon passed a ballot initiative that replaced typical polling-place voting with a statewide vote by mail program. Other states including Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Washington State allow mail-in voting at one level or another. Voting Early: Some countries increase turnout by extending the period of elections. In Sweden any voter may vote early at their local post office. In 2004, the state of Texas is experimenting with early voting polls in selected areas are open between seventeen days and four days prior to election day. Internet Voting: Many people believe that internet voting will greatly increase voter participation. However, it might also offer greater ease of voting to wealthier households. Many countries are testing pilot projects. The state of California recently commissioned a study on the feasibility of internet voting. The panel, comprised of more than two dozen experts in the field of data security, elections and voter participation concluded that "the implementation of Internet voting would allow increased access to the voting process for millions of potential voters who do not regularly participate in our elections." But the commission also expressed serious concerns about "technological threats to the security, integrity and secrecy of Internet ballots" and did not recommend a wholesale move to Internet voting. Election Day Registration: Election Day Registration (EDR), also known as "same-day voter registration," permits eligible citizens to register and vote on Election Day. In the 2000 election, six states Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming permitted voters to register and vote on Election Day. These states had considerably higher voter participation and registration rates than the national average 68 percent voter turnout for the EDR states as opposed to 59 percent nationwide. Critics contend that same-day registration will lead to greater voter fraud. Source: America Votes at pbs.org

26 Mobilizing the Vote Institutional context Motor-Voter Compulsory voting Election Day registration Voting by mail Internet voting Motivational strategies Personal canvassing (messenger vs. message) Social pressure Enduring personal traits and psychological orientations Socialization through programs such as Kids Voting USA

27 I Cannot Be Charted I am the youth vote. And I'm tired of being preached at, studied and wooed. I want to be educated, listened to and, most of all, respected. Everyone has a theory as to why I don't vote, but no one really asks me. So I'll explain. I am neither lazy nor apathetic. I'm confused and frustrated. I am told to care about issues like Social Security and health care, when chances are high that I won't even find a job after I graduate from college. I juggle low-wage, part-time jobs or a full-time class schedule, and I'm not necessarily available on Nov. 2. I cannot be accurately represented by percentages and statistics. I cannot be graphed and charted. I am not a Democrat, Republican or other. I'm a mixed bag of experiences and influences, and no one can predict how I will vote when I do vote. I am not ignorant. I know what's going in the worldeven if I hear it mostly from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." And yes, at times I do care more about the latest episode of "The Sopranos" than the headline news. That's because I live the headline news. I know about poverty and crime. I live it every day. I am not disengaged, I'm worn out. Sometimes I feel that no matter how I vote, there will still be war, crime and poverty. And I have other things on my mind. I am worried about skin cancer, drunken drivers, eating disorders, what I'm going to be when I grow up, how I'm going to get there and what I'm going to do Friday night.

28 I Cannot Be Charted I don't know the difference between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry because they don't take time out from kissing babies and the behinds of corporate executives to tell me. Anyway, sex scandals, wars based on false pretenses and broken promises have left me cynical about all politicians. Howard Dean tried to change my mind about the political process. He made me a part of his campaign, rather than a target. He recognized the power I hold, rather than ignoring my potential. I am active on campuses across the country, but this part of me is recognized only as a minority--a few bright stars in an otherwise dark night. I am not a dark knight. I will not ride in on my horse come November and steal the election for one candidate or another. I don't know if I will even really vote at all. But I do know that I am 48 million strong. And if someone would just reach out to me--not just during election years, but every day--I would show them overwhelming support at the polls. I am the youth vote. by TRACI E. CARPENTER Newsweek, July 12, 2004

29 future-for-non-voters/

30 Increasing Voter Turnout Voting by mail Voting early Internet voting Election day registration

31 Vote Mobilization Efforts to increase voter turnout are often called Get-Out-the-Vote drives, or GOTV.

32 Obama goes door-to-door in Iowa DES MOINES, Iowa - Democrat knocked on doors in the Iowa capital Saturday talking up his opposition to the war in Iraq. At one stop, Obama got a warm welcome from a woman who said the visit might persuade her to attend the Democratic presidential caucus in January, "I'm flabbergasted that he's here knocking on my neighborhood door," Jody Degard told reporters after the visit from the Illinois senator.

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34 Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections, The 26 th Amendment grants year olds the right to vote The 19 th Amendment grants women the right to vote

35 Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections,

36 How Should We Measure Turnout?

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38 Vote Mobilization In recent years, political parties have neglected traditional get- out-the-vote efforts (e.g., door- to-door canvassing) in favor of appeals to narrow and precise market segments. Still, in a recent experiment conducted by two Yale professors, voter turnout increased substantially (7- 12%) through personal canvassing, only slightly using direct mail, and not at all following s and automated telephone calls.

39 GOTV Tactics In part, the Republican strategy in 2004 was based on mobilizing the 4 million Christian evangelicals that (according to Karl Rove) stayed home in Rather than appealing to moderate swing voters, Bush focused on increasing turnout from the partys conservative base. Effort also focused on key states. In Ohio alone, the GOPs grassroots campaign included 3.5 million phone calls, knocking on 1.1 million doors, sending out 3.5 million pieces of literature, and the labor of 85,612 volunteers.

40 Add stuff about ACORN

41 Vote Suppression Ballot and machine shortages on Election Day in selected precincts. Delays in sending absentee ballots. Vote challenges. Disqualification of provisional ballots. Purges of voter registration lists (e.g., voter caging). Misdirection of voters to polling places. Negative advertising designed to undermine morale. The following are some ways in which voter turnout can be selectively suppressed to the advantage of one party over the other: Of the 1,509 incidents reported to the Election Incident Reporting System (EIRS), 548 occurred in Ohioa state Bush won by just over 100,000 votes.

42 Has Motor-Voter Increased Ballot Fraud? Nashawna Prude, 9, with a family photo that includes her grandmother, Kimberly, second from left, jailed for more than a year for voter fraud. Kimberly Prude was convicted of voting while on probation, an offense that she attributes to confusion over eligibility.

43 Has Motor-Voter Increased Ballot Fraud? "Operation Big Vote" in the St. Louis area was used by Democrats to register more African-American voters and get them to the voting booth on Election Day. They delivered 3,800 voter registration cards to the St. Louis Elections Board on the February 7, 2001, nearly all of them fraudulent. Many of the applications sought to register prominent people, dead or alive - as well as at least three deceased aldermen and a dog. In 2000, the state of Florida hired a private firm named ChoicePoint to cleanse its voter rolls of felons who were ineligible to vote. The company produced a list of 8,000 names to remove from the registration rolls, only to find later that none had committed felonies, only misdemeanors. Critics argued the process unfairly targeted African-American voters. We spend quite a lot of time and money trying to increasing voter turnout. Why not devote equal effort to ensuring that election procedures and eligibility requirements are upheld? But how do we know when weve go too far?

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45 In 2000, George W. Bush won the state of Florida by just 537 votes (0.01%) In Oregon, the presidential election that year was decided by 6,745 votes (0.44%) In Iowa, by 4,144 votes (0.31%) In Wisconsin, by 5,708 votes (0.22%) In New Mexico, by 366 votes (0.06%) Close Elections Mean Turnout Matters

46 In 2004, George W. Bush won Wisconsin by 11,384 votes (0.38%) In New Hampshire, by 9,274 votes (1.37%) In New Mexico, by 5,988 votes (0.79%) In Iowa, by 10,059 votes (0.67%) Close Elections Mean Turnout Matters Tight states in 2008: North Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Ohio

47 Voter Turnout as a Political Strategy With narrow margins of victory, and an electorate split evenly down the middle, political parties increasingly battle over voter turnout.

48 Fraud vs. Suppression The conflicting values of voter integrity and voter access increasingly frame todays debates about democracy. Often, measures that prevent fraud in electionssuch as photo-ID requirementsmake voting more difficult and reduce access for legitimate voters. --Spencer Overton

49 The Debate over Voter ID

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51 HAVA requires any voter who registered by mail and who has not previously voted in a federal election to show current and valid photo identification or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. Voters who submitted any of these forms of identification during registration are exempt, as are voters entitled to vote by absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Help America Vote Act (2002)

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53 The statutes, as of August 2012, of the 50 U.S. states regarding the required or requested showing of ID at the polling place are as follows: Strict photo ID (voters must show photo ID at polling place or follow-up with election officials soon after the election if they fail to provide a photo ID when voting): Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. In addition, Mississippi and South Carolina have strict photo ID laws that must receive, but have not received, approval from the U.S. Justice Department; pending such approval, they all require non-photo ID, except for Mississippi which has no other voter ID law on the books. Photo ID or alternative (voters at polling place must either show photo ID or meet another state-specific requirements, such as answering personal questions correctly or being vouched for by another voter or poll worker(s) who has a voter ID): Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan and South Dakota. New Hampshire also has one of these laws, but it requires pre- approval from the U.S. Justice Department first. Non-photo ID (state-specific list of acceptable forms of polling place ID, including a non-photo form): Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington. Arizona, Ohio and Virginia also have strict, after election follow-up rules for voters that fail to provide the required voter ID when voting at a polling place. Alabama has a newer photo ID law that is scheduled to take effect in 2014, if it gets pre-approval from the U.S. Justice Department. No ID required at polling place: all other states not noted above.

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55 How common is vote fraud?

56 Vote Suppression Ballot and machine shortages on Election Day in selected precincts. Delays in sending absentee ballots. Vote challenges. Disqualification of provisional ballots. Purges of voter registration lists (e.g., voter caging). Misdirection of voters to polling places. Negative advertising designed to undermine morale.


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