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Right to Vote The Framers left suffrage qualifications up to each State. Suffrage means the right to vote. Franchise The American electorate (people eligible.

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Presentation on theme: "Right to Vote The Framers left suffrage qualifications up to each State. Suffrage means the right to vote. Franchise The American electorate (people eligible."— Presentation transcript:

1 Right to Vote The Framers left suffrage qualifications up to each State. Suffrage means the right to vote. Franchise The American electorate (people eligible to vote) is more than 205 million. The history of American suffrage has been marked by two long trends. Gradually extending suffrage Second the National government taking over what was originally intended for the States

2 Extending Suffrage First stage – religious qualifications disappeared (no state has had a religious qualification since 1810) Second stage – followed the Civil War. The 15 th Amendment, ratified in 1870, was intended to protect any citizen from being denied the right to vote because of race or color. Third stage – the 19 th Amendment prohibited the right to vote because of sex. Fourth stage – Voting Rights Act of 1965 would eventually push for voter equality Fifth stage – 26 th Amendment in 1971 expanded the electorate (the minimum age would be 18)

3 Setting Voter Qualifications This is a power that is reserved for the States. The Constitution does place five restrictions on how the States use that power. Voters must be allowed to vote in ALL elections. Cannot be deprived based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” 19 th Amendment No paying of a tax for taking part in an election process 26 th Amendment

4 Voter Qualifications Citizenship – aliens, and foreign-born residents who have not achieved citizenship are generally denied the right to vote in the United States. Residence – one must be a legal resident of the State in which he or she wishes to cast a ballot. (usually for a given period of time, 30 days) To keep a political machine from importing outsiders to affect the outcome of an election To ensure that every voter has at least some time in which to become familiar with the candidates and issues of the election.

5 Setting Voter Qualifications Residence – nearly every State prohibits transients, or persons living in a State for a short amount of time, from gaining legal residence there. Age – the 26 th Amendment was added to the Constitution in No State may set the minimum age for voting in any election at more than 18. States could set the age at younger than 18, if it so chooses.

6 Setting Voter Qualifications Registration – forty-nine States, all except North Dakota, require that most or all voters be registered to vote. Procedure that was adopted to prevent fraud. Typically you register your name, date of birth, present address, length of residence, and similar facts. (usually done with the county clerk) Literacy – today no State has a qualification based on voter literacy, or a person’s ability to read or write. Tax payments – no longer exists Persons denied the right Persons in a mental institution or found mentally incompetent Those convicted of serious crimes

7 Suffrage and Civil Rights 15 th Amendment – effort to franchise African Americans began with this amendment Can’t be denied due to “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” This amendment had no way of being executed. Many African Americans were kept from the polls in the South. Poll tax Literacy tests Gerrymandering – drawing of district lines to limit the voting of a particular group or party Violence

8 Early Civil Rights Legislation Civil Rights Act of 1957 – created the United States Civil Rights Commission Check out claims of voter discrimination The commission would report claims to Congress The attorney general had the power to seek court orders to prevent voter discrimination The Civil Rights Act of 1960 provided referees to places that discriminated

9 Civil Rights Act of 1964 This act outlaws discrimination in several areas Forbids the literacy test Prohibited job discrimination The act relied on judicial action to overcome racial barriers by using injunctions An injunction is a court order that forces or restrains (limits) the performance of some act by a private individual or by a public official. Violators were punishable by a fine and or imprisonment.

10 The Voting Rights Act of 1965 This made the 15 th Amendment an effective part of the Constitution. It applied to all elections held anywhere in this country It was originally intended to be in effect for five years, but Congress has extended its life three times. The present version has been extended for 25 years, with its provisions to expire in 2007

11 Preclearance The Voting Rights Act of 1965 created a further restriction on those States where a majority had not voted in No new election laws unless given preclearance through the Department of Justice Location of polling places The boundaries of election districts Deadlines in the election process From ward or district election to at-large elections The qualifications candidates must meet

12 Voter Behavior Nonvoters – there are many millions of people who do not vote Only about half of the people that were eligible voted in the last presidential election or about 51% The numbers go done even further in off year elections (these are elections held in even numbered years between presidential elections Political efficacy – people who lack their own sense of effectiveness in politics

13 Factors that Influence Voters A voter’s personal characteristics such as age, race, income, occupation, education, and religion. (these are sociological factors) A voter’s group affiliation such as family, co- workers, and friends. Psychological factors Party identification – loyalty to a party and voting only for that party is known as straight ticket voting Split ticket voting is the practice of voting for candidates of more than one party in an election. Independents are those people that do not have any party affiliation.


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