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Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Chapter 6 Voting. Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 History of the Franchise In 1824 – Andrew Jackson and his supporters pushed.

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Presentation on theme: "Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Chapter 6 Voting. Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 History of the Franchise In 1824 – Andrew Jackson and his supporters pushed."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Chapter 6 Voting

2 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 History of the Franchise In 1824 – Andrew Jackson and his supporters pushed for electoral reform. –Six of 24 states did not allow voters to pick their presidential electors. –By 1828 this number went down to 2, and voting tripled to 56 percent of the adult male population. –Voting turnout remained low due to property requirements. Poor excluded from voting and some religious requirements continued until 1830s. –1850s: qualifications included being a taxpayer –Not until late 1850s was universal white male suffrage achieved.

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4 Voting Rights in the Amendment Process Series of constitutional amendments expanded electoral access –By 1960s most Americans of voting age held the legal right to participate in federal elections. –The 15th Amendment (1870) extended the franchise to black males, but many could not exercise this vote in parts of the South. –Voting Rights Act reestablished federal oversight of southern elections.

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6 Voting Rights in the Amendment Process Women’s suffrage also slow process –Wyoming allowed women to vote in national elections in 1890. –Eleven other states gave women the right to vote by 1916. Most were western states. –In 1920 the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in every state. Stanton and Anthony, National Archives, 1180-1920

7 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Voting Rights in the Amendment Process The 23rd Amendment in 1961 –Granted residents of Washington, D.C. the right to vote for presidential electors The 26th Amendment in 1971 –Guaranteed voting rights to those under 21 (Note that states could use a lower age limit if they chose.) –Signed into law by Nixon Trend: steady, yet uneven expansion of vote

8 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 How Voting Rights Spread Voting rights left up to separate states, which extended suffrage in different ways at different times Politics of voting expansion –Woodrow Wilson and women’s suffrage –His opponent supported it. –Women could vote in the West. –Wilson could not afford to surrender the West to Hughes so he adopted a moderate stance on women’s suffrage. –Women’s suffrage began to look inevitable so other politicians jumped on the bandwagon. France: 1945 Switzerland: Last canton in 1990.

9 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Why People Participate Extending suffrage has not led to increased voter participation. Presidential elections –Half of the electorate stays home. Voting is costly. What are some of these? But there are benefits, too. What are some of these? Today, most of the benefits are psychological. –Civic duty to vote Voter mobilization can matter. –Efforts of parties, groups, and activists to encourage turnout

10 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 International Comparisons Americans vote at much lower levels than people in most other countries. The measurement of turnout varies. Here: –Number of people voting for president / number of people in voting-age population Undervote: –Ballots that indicate no choice for an office whether because the voter abstained or because the voter’s intention could not be determined

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12 International Comparisons Overvote: –Ballots that have more than one choice for an office, whether because the voter voted for more than one candidate or wrote in a name as well as making a mark Voting-age population: –All the people in the U.S. over the age of 18, including those who may not be legally eligible to vote All of these things contribute to the underestimation of voters.

13 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Personal Costs and Benefits: Registration Other countries use a different denominator in their turnout calculations. The denominator is registered population. More than 30% of the American voting-age population has not registered. When U.S. voting is calculated this way, we move to the middle of turnout for industrial democracies. But registration is also automatic in most of the world. Probably would not erase the participation gap

14 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Personal Costs and Benefits: Compulsion Some countries attach costs to nonvoting. Compulsory in some countries. –Australia and Belgium – fine nonvoters –Greek electoral law provides for imprisonment of nonvoters for up to 12 months (rarely applied). –Italy – no fine, but DID NOT VOTE is stamped on their identification papers. They also have their names posted on community bulletin boards. Compulsion raises turnout by about 15 percent more than in democracies without it.

15 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Other Personal Costs and Benefits Elections traditionally held on Tuesdays Other countries hold them on Sundays or make the election day a holiday. Italian workers receive free train fare back to their place of registration. In the U.S., we vote many times during the course of a four year period. Being registered to vote also means being registered for JURY DUTY.

16 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Mobilization and Turnout American parties have declined as mobilizing agents. Interest groups act as mobilizing agents, but they are not as deeply rooted in American politics. Overall, weaker mobilization efforts depress turnout by about 10 percent. Therefore, it costs more to vote in the U.S. and individuals receive less support for voting than citizens in other countries.

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18 Why Has American Turnout Declined? Puzzle: Why has turnout declined when developments have led us to expect an increase in turnout? –Voting Rights Act –24 th Amendment –Poll taxes and literacy tests abolished –Shortened state and local residency requirements –Simplified registration –Bilingual ballots –Easier absentee voting –Socioeconomic changes – Younger people don’t vote as much, but educated people do. While we have a younger electorate we have a much more educated electorate. –So why the decline??????

19 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Why Has American Turnout Declined? Declining Personal Benefits Declining Mobilization Declining Social Connectedness –Compositional effect: an aggregate change that results from a change in the group’s composition, not from a change in the behavior of individuals in the group. –Social connectedness: the degree to which individuals are integrated into society – families, churches, neighborhoods, groups and so forth

20 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Who Votes and Who Doesn’t? People differ in –their ability to bear the costs of voting –their strength of civic duty –how often they are targets of mobilization Highly-educated people are more likely to vote than those without formal education. Whites tend to be more highly-educated. Turnout increases with age until very old age reverses the trend. In other countries, there is not the strong relationship between socioeconomic characteristics and turnout.

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22 Is Low Turnout a Problem? 3 arguments say it is not. –High turnout related to strife and conflict. If relatively no conflict, we should expect low turnout. –Quality of electoral decisions is higher if a special effort is not made to increase turnout. On average, nonvoters are less educated than voters. –Elections are charades. Real decisions are made by elites. Voting is solely to placate the masses. So elections do not matter. There is very little evidence to support this argument.

23 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Is Low Turnout A Problem? 3 arguments say it is. –Voters are unrepresentative so elections are biased and thus public policies that are adopted are biased as well. Research says this argument is overstated. Why? Policy views and candidate preferences of voters and nonvoters appear to differ relatively little. –Low turnout reflects phony politics because the party system does not address “real” issues of concern to people. Phony issues are flag burning, gun control, school prayer. Real issues are jobs, education, housing, healthcare.

24 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Is Low Turnout A Problem? –Lower turnout discourages individual development. Participation in democratic politics stimulates people to become better citizens and better human beings. So they take politics to a higher level. –What do you think? Is low turnout a cause for concern? A cause for despair?

25 Pearson Education, Inc. © 2005 Beyond the Voting Booth Citizens participate beyond the voting booth. –Americans are more likely than many to work in campaigns, contact public officials, volunteer for work in their community. –Contribute money to candidates, attend local board meetings, and engage in political protest –So why are these means of participation sometimes more attractive than voting? –Often for the same reasons that voter turnout is low.

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