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Chapter 6: Voters and Voter Behavior

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1 Chapter 6: Voters and Voter Behavior
Section 1: The Right to Vote Section 2: Voter Qualifications Section 3: Suffrage and Civil Rights Section 4: Voter Behavior

2 Section 1: The Right to Vote
The success of a democratic government depends on popular participation – voting is the key. “Suffrage”: the right to vote (“franchise”). “Electorate”: the potential voting population.

3 When the Constitution was passed, only white male property owners could vote. Over time, qualifications to vote have eased significantly and the federal government has taken control over granting the right to vote.

4 The following restrictions are placed on states setting voter qualifications:
15th Amendment prohibited the denial of voting based on race. 19th Amendment prohibited the denial of voting based on sex. 23rd Amendment added voters of the District of Columbia.

5 24th Amendment eliminated the poll tax. (+ Civil Rights Act of 1965)
26th amendment forbids states to set minimum voting age at higher than 18.

6 Sumary What constitutional restrictions exist on the States’ power to set voting qualifications?

7 Section 2: Voter Qualifications
There are universal voting requirements in every state based on 3 major subjects: 1. Citizenship 2. Residence 3. Age

8 1. Citizenship: You must be a citizen of the U.S. to vote.
“Aliens”(Legal/documented Residents): foreign-born residents who have not become citizens are typically denied the right to vote.

9 2. Residence: You must be a resident of the state you plan to cast a vote in – usually at least 30 days. * “Transients”: persons living in a state for only a short period of time (travelling salesmen, college students, etc.) usually aren’t granted residency

10 3. Age: The 26th Amendment says the states cannot deny citizens of the U.S. the right to vote if they are 18 or older – “old enough to fight, old enough to vote” – states can lower the voting age if they chose to do so.

11 The only other major qualification that has stood the test of time is “registration”: a procedure of voter identification intended to prevent fraudulent voting. *Typically, you must register your name, age, place of birth, present address, etc. You stay registered unless you die, move, are convicted of a serious crime, or are committed to a mental institution.

12 Recently, all states have made it easier to register to vote – online, at the DMV, by mail, or at local offices of state employment, welfare, and other social service agencies. Most states require voters to be registered days before elections.

13 Summary Explain the other requirements that States have used or still use as voting qualifications. (pp )

14 Section 3: Suffrage and Civil Rights
Voting rights have been ensured through constitutional amendments and various acts passed by Congress. Today, no voter is denied the right to vote because of discrimination in any election throughout the United States.

15 Those denied the right to vote:
Those in mental institutions or declared mentally incompetent, many who commit serious crimes, and some who have been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces.

16 Amendments The 15th Amendment was intended to protect any citizen from being denied the right to vote because of color. Violence Threats Firing Denying credit “legal” devices Literacy tests Poll taxes Gerrymandering Gomillion V. Lightfoot (Alabama, 1960) White primaries (Parties: “Private Assoc.”) “Smith v. Allwright (Texas, 1944)

17 Acts Civil Rights Act of set up the United States Civil Rights Commission to inquire into claims of voter discrimination. Civil Rights Act of added the additional safeguard of appointing federal voting referees. They were given the power to help qualified persons to register and vote in federal elections.

18 Acts Civil Rights Act of It relied on judicial action to overcome racial barriers and emphasized the use of federal court orders, or injunctions. Voting Rights Act of This applied to all elections held anywhere in this country. Preclearance is prior approval by the Department of Justice for a change to a law. States can bail out by showing that they have not applied discriminatory voting practices for at least 10 years.

19 The Voting Rights Act of 1965

20 African Americans at the Polls

21 Summary Analyze the provisions and effects of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Pp

22 Section 4: Voter Behavior
In 2004, 56.7% of the electorate participated in the presidential election (95 million eligible voters did not vote). Ballot Fatigue: People vote less as they go down the ballot: Voters exhaust their patience/knowledge (Chart P. 165)

23 Why Don’t People Vote? 1. “Cannot Voters”: literally cannot vote (resident aliens, ill or physically disabled, out of town, mentally ill, jailed, religiously forbidden). 2. Actual Nonvoters: some people believe their vote does not matter – they do not have “political efficacy”: a feeling of influence in politics. 3. Other Reasons: cumbersome procedures (long lines, time, bad weather, registration process) – “time-zone fallout”: voters in the west may not vote because early results may have already sealed the election – lack of interest (#1 factor of nonvoting).

24 More Likely to Vote: Older, women, and those with high levels of income, education, job status, party affiliation. Less Likely to Vote: Younger, men, and those with lower levels of income, education, job status, and no party affiliation.

25 Why people vote the way they do?
socialization—studying political socialization, the process by which people gain their political attitudes and opinions, can also be useful in predicting voting behavior

26 Sociological Factors Voter preferences can’t be predicted by just one sociological factor. Voter opinion is a combination of all of these factors and more.

27 Psychological Factors
Party Identification-loyalty to party single most significant and lasting predictor Candidates and Issues two short-term factors

28 Summary How do sociological and psychological factors work together to influence voter behavior?

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