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VOTING AND ELECTIONS. Ladder of Conventional Participation ß-Running for Political Office ßJoining/Active in Political Parties and Interest Groups ßWorking.

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Presentation on theme: "VOTING AND ELECTIONS. Ladder of Conventional Participation ß-Running for Political Office ßJoining/Active in Political Parties and Interest Groups ßWorking."— Presentation transcript:


2 Ladder of Conventional Participation ß-Running for Political Office ßJoining/Active in Political Parties and Interest Groups ßWorking in Campaigns ßAttending Government Meetings ßWriting Letters ßKnowing elected officials ßVOTING - least initiative

3 Constitutional Challenges ß14th Amendment ß15th Amendment ß19th Amendment ß24th Amendment ß26th Amendment ßWhite Primary ßCovert and Overt Tactics ßSmith v. Allwright (1944) ßNRA 1992 ßMotor Voter Bill

4 Party Conventions ßThe United States presidential nominating convention is a political convention held every four years in the United States by the political parties who will be fielding nominees in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. ßThe formal purpose of such a convention is to select the party's nominee for President, as well as to adopt a statement of party principles and goals known as the platform and adopt the rules for the party's activities, including the presidential nominating process for the next election cycle

5 Republican ßThere were 2,348 delegates that attended the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota in September. To win the nomination, a candidate must win the votes of at least 1,191 delegates at the convention.

6 Democrats ßAs for the Democratic Party, there were 4,049 total delegates at its 2008 National Convention in Denver, in August. There are 3,253 pledged delegates and 796 super- delegates. The total number of delegates needed to win the nomination is 2,025.

7 What is a Delegate? ßA delegate is a person who is generally empowered to represent a larger group. ßTo delegate, is to give authority or responsibility to others. In a sense, those who chose a delegate are choosing someone who will represent them and their interests. A delegate is often also called a representative.

8 The Superdelegates ßThe reason is because of the super-delgates. Super-delegates are only in the Democratic Party. After a tight battle for the 1980 presidential nomination between Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy which left the party deeply divided, the party created these superdelegates. The major Democratic Party leaders felt that the superdelegates would actually be more representative of all Democratic voters if they had more elected officials on the convention floor to offset the more open-minded impulses of party activists. In short, the superdelegates were created to provide leadership and unity at the nominating convention. Well, who are these leaders? They are typically members of the Democratic National Committee, elected officials like senators or governors, or party leaders. And here is the kicker: they do not have to indicate a candidate preference until the Convention!

9 Proceedings ßParty Activists Hold Meetings Draft a Platform – containing goals and proposals (planks) ßSpeeches - minor and major figures get to address the floor ßFinal Day of the convention usually features the formal acceptance speeches from the nominees for President and Vice President ßClosure – balloons, party, music, celebration,

10 Voting Rights Act, 1965 (VRA) ß- Major law enacted by Congress in 1965 and renewed and expanded in 1970,1975, 1982, and 2006 that has sought to eliminate restrictions on voting that have been used to discriminate against blacks and other minority groups.

11 VRA cont ßThe major provision of the 1965 Act: ß1) Suspended the use of literacy and other tests used to discriminate. ß2) Authorized registration by federal registrars in any state or county where such tests had been used and where less than 50% of eligible voters were registered ß7 Southern states ( Texas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama ) were mainly affected by these provisions.

12 VRA cont ßIn 1970: ß - It extended the Act for 5 more years. ß - Lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 ß - Prohibited the states from disqualifying voters in presidential elections because of their failure to meet state residency requirements beyond 30 days ß - provided uniform national rules for absentee registration and voting in presidential elections

13 VRA cont ßIn 1975: ß- Extended for another 7 years ß- Federal protection was extended to 10 new states ß- Bilingual ballots were required ß- Legal protection of voting rights was extended to: Spanish-Americans, Alaskan natives, American Indians, and Asian-Americans

14 VRA cont ßIn 1982: ß- Extended for 25 years ß- Authorizes a bail-out for covered states showing a clear record for ten years. ß- Provides that intent to discriminate need not be proven if the results demonstrate otherwise ßFlorida, 2000??

15 Amended in 2006 ßCongress has amended and extended the Act several times since its original passage, the most recent being the 25-year extension signed by President George W. Bush on July 27, 2006.George W. Bush ßIn Signing This Bill, President Bush Honored The Memory Of Three Women Who Devoted Their Lives To The Struggle For Civil Rights - Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, And Coretta Scott King. The Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 was named in honor of these three American heroes.

16 Amended in 2006 ßThe Voting Rights Act Reauthorization And Amendments Act Of 2006 Extends The VRA For 25 Years, Extending: ß ßThe prohibition against the use of tests or devices to deny the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election; and ßThe requirement for certain States and local governments to provide voting materials in multiple languages.

17 2006 "cont" ßThe New Law Also Amends The VRA With Regard To: ßThe use of election examiners and observers; ßVoting qualifications or standards intended to diminish, or with the effect of diminishing, the ability of U.S. citizens on account of race or color to elect preferred candidates; and ßAward of attorney fees in enforcement proceedings to include expert fees and other reasonable costs of litigation.

18 One Legal Remaining Barrier to Voting ßState Registration Laws ß- 30 days (Georgia) ß- Same Day (Minnesota)

19 How to Vote ßCheck in by showing voter registration card or drivers license. In Georgia, you must have an ID with your address showing residency (Governor Purdue, 2005) ßEarly voting/precinct ßPartisan/non partisan election ßOpen primary/closed primary/general election ßCast ballot (punch card, bubble, line, electronic, pull lever) ßAbsentee ballot

20 Elections and Democracy Democratic control Elections are essential for democratic politics. Elections are the principal means by which popular sovereignty and majority rule are supposed to work. Can elections ensure that governments will do what the people want?

21 Political Participation Political participation refers to political activity by individual citizens. Unconventional participation includes activities such as demonstrations and boycotts Conventional participation includes activities such as voting, writing letters, contacting officials, giving money

22 Expansion of the franchise The franchise was quite restricted in the early years of the United States. The expansion of the right to vote has been one of the most important developments in the political history of the United States. Direct partisan elections

23 The vanishing electorate Suffrage expanded to more groups during the first century of American history, and larger and larger proportions voted. Voter turnout rate in the U.S. is very low compared with other modern industrialized countries. The ideal of political equality is violated by low rates of voter turnout.

24 Barriers to Voting Causes of low voter turnout Registration Lack of attractive choices Changes in eligibility rules Alienation and apathy about politics that many Americans felt after the 1960s Lack of voter mobilization by political parties and the failure of both parties to register low-income citizens

25 Campaigning Involvement Despite low voter turnout levels, Americans are more likely than people in other countries to participate actively in campaigns. Areas of involvement Contact officials Give money Attend meetings Attend political rallies Work actively in a campaign organization

26 Who Participates? Characteristics of voters and nonvoters There is class bias in voting and other forms of political participation. Some statistical analyses indicate that the crucial factor in voter turnout is the level of formal education. Income level may be more important than education in affecting who actually votes.

27 Does It Matter Who Votes? Two contrasting points of view The rate of participation is unimportant because the preferences of those who vote are similar to those who do not vote. A low voter turnout rate may be a positive factor since more educated people vote. Nonvoters are clearly different from voters. How participation can make a change Broader participation would increase popular sovereignty and political equality.

28 Nomination Politics and Democracy Incumbents The autumn campaign The fall campaign traditionally began on Labor Day, but now tends to start right after the conventions or earlier. Campaign organizations set up in each state Intense money raising, combined with a new round of public financing Media blitz Focus groups Voter registration and voter turnout campaigns Informing voters

29 Money and Elections Presidential campaigns cost enormous amounts of money. The cost has increased rapidly over time. Campaign spending may not look so big when compared with corporate advertising. The source of campaign money is far more problematic for democracy than the cost of presidential elections. Where does the money come from? Does money talk?

30 The McCain-Feingold Act ß,Public Law , is the US federal law that regulates the financing of political campaigns; chief sponsors were Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russell Feingold (D- WI). The law became effective 6 November 2002.

31 ßIt focused on areas: Soft money in campaign financing ßIssue ads and ßControversial campaign practices during the 1996 federal elections ßIncreasing political contribution limits for private individuals Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act

32 Soft Money ßSoft money is supposed to be spent for particular purposes, on such things as campaign ads endorsing an entire political party. It can also be used for voter registration drives or get out and vote campaigns, yard signs, t-shirts, and stickers for the party. Soft money may also be used for advertisements that discuss specific political issues or the partys platform. The idea behind soft money is for early party building and rallying the base.

33 Soft Money "cont" ßToday, soft money is said to be used for a variety of other expenses as well, including administrative costs. These costs may include things like purchasing supplies, paying rent and utilities for general campaign offices, and a host of other mundane expenses. Since it isnt being used for anything too exciting, like mudslinging campaigns against opposing candidates, the uses of soft money are often overlooked.

34 "cont" ßAt one time, nearly unlimited amounts of money were allowed to be donated to political parties through the soft money loophole. While it is said that campaign finance reform legislation no longer leaves the amount unlimited, the soft money loophole still allows wealthy contributors to donate a great deal of money. Many see this as a way for wealthy contributors to buy influence without being held accountable.

35 How Voters Decide The way in which people make their voting decisions affects how elections contribute to democratic control of government. Parties, candidates, and issues all have substantial effects on how people vote. Social characteristics and party loyalties Candidates Issues

36 The Electoral College When voting for president, American voters are actually voting for a slate of electors who have promised to support the candidate. Almost all states now have winner-take-all systems. For most practical purposes, the electoral college system works in much the same way as if Americans chose their presidents by direct popular vote. Consequences of the electoral college system We will study the EC in detail later on in the semester.

37 Do Elections Matter? In terms of the responsible party government theory... Republicans tend to be more conservative than Democrats on a number of economic and social issues. This provides voters with a measure of democratic control by enabling them to detect differences and make choices.

38 SUMMARY Voters exercise control in the electoral competition theory by either reelecting successful incumbents or defeating unsuccessful officeholders. Elections force parties to compete by nominating centrist candidates and by taking similar popular positions. U.S. elections help make the publics voice heard, but political equality is damaged by providing more political influence to some types of people than to others.

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