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“All political ideas cannot and should not be channeled into the programs of our two major parties. History has amply proved the virtue of political activity.

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Presentation on theme: "“All political ideas cannot and should not be channeled into the programs of our two major parties. History has amply proved the virtue of political activity."— Presentation transcript:

1 “All political ideas cannot and should not be channeled into the programs of our two major parties. History has amply proved the virtue of political activity by minority, dissident groups, which innumerable times have been in the vanguard of democratic thought and whose programs were ultimately accepted. The absence of such voices would be a symptom of grave illness in our society.” –Earl Warren, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

2 Voter Turnout Chapter 13 What are the problems presented by the voter registration process? How do provisional ballots, e-voting, and the election and voting processes effect voter turnout?

3 Even though voter turnout increased 4% between the 2000 & 2004 Presidential elections, the U.S. is still ranked 20 out of 21 in voter turnout among established democracies. There are many speculations about the reasons for low voter turnout: social, procedural, economic, political, demographic, to technological explanations.

4 VOTER REGISTRATION As 89% of registered voters actually voted in the 2004 presidential elections, it shows that voter registration is a good indicator of voting behavior. –Figuring our the reasons why people do not register is a good way of figuring out why people don’t turnout to vote. According to a recent Census report, there were 32 million potential, but unregistered, voters for the 2004 Presidential elections. Out of these 32 million, –51% claimed disinterest in politics or a belief that their vote will not count, and are voluntary disenfranchised. –28% claimed involuntary disenfranchisement due to the registration process. –21% claimed voting eligibility problems, personal or religious reasons or simply didn’t answer

5 REGISTRATION DEADLINES Of the 28% (9 million people) who said they had problems with the registration process, the majority said they missed their state’s registration deadline. This deadline ranges nationwide from 10 to 30 days prior to the election. –VA deadline is 29 days before Election Day This is problematic because: –Registration ends just as political campaigns are swinging into full-gear Politically inactive people may become aware of the election just as registration is ending.

6 REGISTRATION RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS Most states require registered voters to be a resident for at least ten to thirty days prior to the election. –4.5 million people didn’t register because of residency requirements That’s the same as the entire state population of Massachusetts not voting! Almost 6 million voters (population of NJ) didn’t register because they didn’t know how or where to register.

7 PROVISIONAL BALLOTS Provisional ballot--used to record a vote when there are questions about a voter's eligibility at the polls. –Refusal to show a photo ID (in regions that require one) –Voter’s name does not appear on the electoral roll for the given precinct. –Voter’s registration has inaccurate/out-dated information such as the wrong address or a misspelled name. –The voter's ballot has already been recorded Whether it’s counted is only upon verification of that voter's eligibility. The ballot is not counted until 7–10 days after election; their vote does not affect the calling of the states to different candidates. According to Demos, a non-partisan public policy and research center, 1:3 or 650,000 of 2 million provisional ballots cast were left uncounted in the 2004 election

8 DIGITAL DIVIDE & E-VOTING The different sides of the digital divide are composed of those who have regular and effective access to technology and those who do not. Those who are familiar with technology: easier transition to e-voting (usually, the younger voters) Those who are unfamiliar with technology: uncomfortable transition (middle- aged and elderly voters) –May accidentally vote for the wrong candidate –May not vote at all No paper-trail of individual votes: machines just print out total tabulations at the end of the day No immediate way to verify that one’s vote has truly been counted, and correctly –Security (hacking) concerns and machine malfunctions Effects: voters are disenfranchised when they feel that their vote doesn’t count, and accordingly do not vote.

9 HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT (2002) Under provisions of HAVA, states were granted federal funds in order to improve the overall voting process –specific funds to replace and upgrade punch card or lever voting machines by January 1, 2006 Virginia started replacing their manual voting machines with computerized voting machines for the 2004 presidential election, and completed the statewide transition by the 2006 mid-term elections

10 MOST COMMON REASONS FOR DISINTEREST IN VOTING: Voter turnout is dropping everywhere; turnout correlates closely with voter income. Not enough of a fine line drawn between candidates/parties on campaign issues—hence, more “attack” ads Outcome of election cannot be determined by a single popular vote Distrust in candidates –imbalanced popularity between both candidates Voter knowledge of candidates and issues lags Voters become disinterested when candidates lose after being favored to win, leading to apathy and depression in the system All of these factors favor incumbents because voters, especially those habitually vote for incumbents, are more likely to vote for somebody they know


12 Please answer the following questions on a sheet of paper. Bring them to class for discussion. 1.What proposals would you make to get people to the polls/more interested in voting? 2.Why do you think the US has such a low turnout rate, especially during mid-term elections? 3.How can we overcome the problems of disenfranchisement due to lack of voter registration? 4.Which demographic groups would benefit most from changes in voting procedures? Which would benefit least? Why?

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