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VOTING AND ELECTIONS Chapter 13 O’Connor and Sabato

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1 VOTING AND ELECTIONS Chapter 13 O’Connor and Sabato
American Government: Continuity and Change

2 VOTING AND ELECTIONS In this chapter we will cover…
The Purposes Served by Elections Different Kinds of Elections Presidential Elections Congressional Elections Voting Behavior Reforming The Electoral Process

3 The Purposes Served by Elections
Most change in the United States comes about on the basis of elections. Elections generally allow us to avoid: riots general strikes coups d'etats Elections serve to legitimate governments through the mandates of the electorate to fill public offices and organize governments to allow people with different views and policy agendas to come to power to ensure that the government remains accountable to the people.

4 Different Kinds of Elections
Primary Elections General Elections Initiative, Referendum, and Recall Initiatives allow citizens to propose legislation and submit it to popular vote. A referendum allows the legislature to submit proposed legislation for popular approval. Recall elections allow citizens to remove someone from office.

5 Presidential Elections
Choosing the nation’s chief executive is a long, exhilarating, and exhausting process that often begins even before the previous election ends. The presidential election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.


7 Electoral College The Electoral College was a compromise created by the Framers to ensure that the president was chosen intelligently and with the input of each of the states. The number of electors is determined by the federal representation for each state. For example, California has 52 members of the House of Representatives and 2 Senators – 54 electoral votes.

8 Electoral College There are a total of 538 electoral votes (535 members of Congress and 3 for the District of Columbia) A majority of 270 wins the presidency. Just as George W. Bush did in 2000, a candidate can win a majority of electoral votes with a minority of popular votes and still be elected to the office.


10 Presidential Election 2000
Al Gore (D) 50,996,116 votes 48% 21 States Won 266 Electoral Votes George Bush (R) 50,456,169 votes 48% 30 States Won 271 Electoral Votes Does your vote matter?

11 Patterns of Presidential Elections
Party Realignments are rare occurrences in which existing party affiliations change dramatically. Secular Realignment is the gradual shifting of party coalitions.


13 Congressional Elections
In Congressional elections: candidates tend to be less visible. most candidates are or were state legislators. name recognition is often the most important battle of the campaign. candidates receive little media coverage.

14 Congressional Election Results, 1948-2002

15 Incumbency Incumbency advantage – the electoral edge afforded to those already in office…achieved through: Higher visibility Experience Organization Fund-raising ability

16 Voting Behavior Voter Participation
About 40% of the eligible adult population votes regularly. About 25% are occasional voters. About 35% rarely or never vote.

17 Voter Turnout in Presidential and Midterm Elections

18 Who Votes? Income – people with higher incomes have a higher tendency to vote. Age – older people tend to vote more often than younger people (less than half of eligible year olds are registered to vote). Gender – Since 1980, women have a higher tendency to vote for Democrats than Republicans. Race – in general, whites tend to vote more regularly than African-Americans (this may be due to income and education rather than race).

19 Does Low Voter Turnout Matter?
Is low voter turnout a problem in a democracy? Do we want the uninformed or poor and uneducated voting? Might they make bad decisions?

20 Reforming the Electoral Process
Some possibilities: Abolition of the electoral college The establishment of a permanent congressional district scheme The elimination of the elector system Nomination process by lottery… New Hampshire not always first Restructuring campaign finance laws

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