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Voters and Voter Behavior

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1 Voters and Voter Behavior
The Right To Vote CH 6

2 Introduction What are the general eligibility requirements for voters today? How have these requirements differed from in the past? The Constitution eliminates certain specific voting restrictions, such as race, but voting requirements are actually determined by the States. Universal state requirements: citizenship, residence, age.

3 Expansion of the Electorate
Suffrage, also called franchise, is the right to vote. In 1789 only white male property owners had this right. Today the American electorate, or the people eligible to vote, includes nearly all citizens who are at least 18 years of age. Two trends caused change: The elimination of many of the restrictions on suffrage. The Federal Government has taken over much of the States’ power over suffrage.

4 Extending Suffrage The Expansion of Voting Rights:
Constitution: States cannot violate any part of the Constitution when they set suffrage requirements. States cannot have different qualifications for voting in State and federal elections. 15th Amendment: States cannot use race to determine who can vote. 19th Amendment: States cannot require people to be male to vote. 24th Amendment: States cannot use the payment of taxes to determine who can vote. 26th Amendment: States cannot require people to be older than 18 to vote

5 Voter Qualifications Determined by the states.
State Citizenship: required by all States. State Residence: Most require days. Prevents transients, people living in a State for only a short time, from voting there. Age: All States require a minimum age of 18. Voter Registration: Required (except North Dakota) Gives officials a list of registered voters: poll books Criminal Record: Most states deny voting rights to anyone convicted of a serious crime.


7 Suffrage and Civil Rights
15th Amendment (1870) established no one can be denied the right to vote because of color. Ignored in some southern States, used violence, threats, literacy tests and gerrymandering to keep African Americans from voting. The Civil Rights Movement Pressured Congress to ensure African American voting rights Voting Act of 1965: made 15th Amendment truly effective by applying it to all elections – local, State, and federal. Forbade practices that prevented voting Preclearance: declared that no new election laws, and no changes in existing election laws, could go into effect unless approved by Department of justice, thus giving preclearance. Act was to stay in effect for 5 years but has been extended numerous times.

8 Gerrymandering: the drawing of electoral district lines in a way that limits a particular groups voting strength.


10 Voter Behavior Millions of Americans who are qualified to vote do not.
Voter turnout is low for presidential elections and lower still for off-year elections, congressional elections that are held between elections. Why? Political efficacy: the feeling that their votes do not make a difference. Convinced that “government by the people” has been taken over by politicians, powerful special interests, and the media.

11 Factors Influencing Voter Behavior
Studies of voter behavior focus on the results of particular elections, polls, and political socialization – the process by which people gain their political attitudes and opinions. Sociological Factors: Income, religion, occupation, education, ethnicity, gender, age, family and region you live in. Example: Gender Gap Psychological Factors: Party identification, perception of candidates, and perception of issues. Example: straight ticket voting

12 Fate of Political Parties
Political Parties have been in decline since the 1960’s. More and more voters regard themselves as independents. Split-ticket voting, voting for candidates of different parties in the same election, has increased.


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