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Voter Turnout. Historical Qualifications Historical Qualifications Religion (eliminated by state legislatures) Religion (eliminated by state legislatures)

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Presentation on theme: "Voter Turnout. Historical Qualifications Historical Qualifications Religion (eliminated by state legislatures) Religion (eliminated by state legislatures)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Voter Turnout

2 Historical Qualifications Historical Qualifications Religion (eliminated by state legislatures) Religion (eliminated by state legislatures) Property (eliminated by state legislatures) Property (eliminated by state legislatures) Race (eliminated by 15 th Amendment) Race (eliminated by 15 th Amendment) Sex (eliminated by 19 th Amendment) Sex (eliminated by 19 th Amendment) Income (eliminated by 24 th Amendment) Income (eliminated by 24 th Amendment) Literacy (eliminated by Voting Rights Act of 1965) Literacy (eliminated by Voting Rights Act of 1965) Minimum age of 21 (eliminated by 26 th Amendment) Minimum age of 21 (eliminated by 26 th Amendment) Current qualifications (set by states) Current qualifications (set by states) Citizenship Citizenship Residency Residency Age Age Registration (except ND) Registration (except ND)

3 Other qualifications (depending on state) Other qualifications (depending on state) Most states prevent convicted felons from voting (Maine and Vermont allow even currently incarcerated felons to vote) Most states prevent convicted felons from voting (Maine and Vermont allow even currently incarcerated felons to vote) Some ban anyone ever convicted of a felony from ever voting again Some ban anyone ever convicted of a felony from ever voting again Homeless Homeless Insane in insane asylums Insane in insane asylums Some cities allow non-citizen residents to vote in local elections Some cities allow non-citizen residents to vote in local elections VAP: Voting Age Population VEP: Voter Eligibility Population, factoring out non-citizens, felons, homeless etc.

4 Who could vote before the Civil War? A black business owner? An 18 year old college student? A nurse and mother of 4 boys? The wife of a US Senator? A poor drifter? A man who rents a room from the local hotel?

5 Who can vote today? An illiterate woman from the Ozark Mountains? A 19 year old high school drop out? An illegal immigrant? An unregistered business owner? A felon in prison for 2 nd degree murder? A convicted smuggler who has served his time and is now a law-abiding citizen? The guy with a “Will work for food” sign on the street corner

6 Voter turnout Voter turnout US: ~50% in presidential elections, 30-40% in midterms congressional elections US: ~50% in presidential elections, 30-40% in midterms congressional elections Even lower in state/local elections. Decline since 1960 Even lower in state/local elections. Decline since 1960

7 Year Voting-age population Voter registrationVoter turnout Turnout of voting-age population (percent) 2008*231,229,580NA132,618,580*56.8% ,600,000135,889,60080,588, % ,256,931174,800,000122,294, ,473,000150,990,59879,830, ,815,000156,421,311105,586, ,929,000141,850,55873,117, ,511,000146,211,96096,456, ,650,000130,292,82275,105, ,529,000133,821,178104,405, ,812,000121,105,63067,859, ,778,000126,379,62891,594, ,566,000118,399,98464,991, ,466,000124,150,61492,652, ,938,000110,671,22567,615, ,597,000113,043,73486,515, ,373,000103,291,26558,917, ,309,190105,037,98681,555, ,336,00096,199, ,943, ,776,00097,328,54177,718, ,498,00082,496, ,014, ,328,18681,658,18073,211, ,132,00076,288, ,188, ,090,00073,715,81870,644, ,423,00065,393, ,141, ,159,00064,833, ,838,

8 Comparable industrialized nations in West, much higher turnout: as high as ~90% Comparable industrialized nations in West, much higher turnout: as high as ~90% The US imposes no penalties (fines, govt. papers stamped “DID NOT VOTE”) for not voting, as other countries do The US imposes no penalties (fines, govt. papers stamped “DID NOT VOTE”) for not voting, as other countries do 32 countries, including Australia and Argentina have compulsory voting laws 32 countries, including Australia and Argentina have compulsory voting laws Bolivian non-voters have their bank accounts frozen for up to 3 months Bolivian non-voters have their bank accounts frozen for up to 3 months Nonvoters are fined in Belgium and Brazil Nonvoters are fined in Belgium and Brazil Possible imprisonment in Fiji and Egypt Possible imprisonment in Fiji and Egypt Other nations have multiparty systems that provide voters more choice Other nations have multiparty systems that provide voters more choice Other nations have automatic/same-day registration Other nations have automatic/same-day registration

9 Reasons for low voter turnout Reasons for low voter turnout Institutional barriers Institutional barriers Registration: meant to limit voting fraud Registration: meant to limit voting fraud National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“Motor Voter Bill”) was designed to increase voter turnout National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“Motor Voter Bill”) was designed to increase voter turnout Allows people to register when renewing drivers license Allows people to register when renewing drivers license Various public offices also offer registration forms Various public offices also offer registration forms Requires states to allow registration by mail Requires states to allow registration by mail Has had insignificant effect on voter turnout Has had insignificant effect on voter turnout Long ballot: excessive # of offices and issues to vote on Long ballot: excessive # of offices and issues to vote on Type of election Type of election General election turnout higher than primary election turnout General election turnout higher than primary election turnout Chief executive election higher than legislative (midterm) election turnout. Presidential elections have highest turnout Chief executive election higher than legislative (midterm) election turnout. Presidential elections have highest turnout National election higher than state election turnout National election higher than state election turnout

10 Difficulties in obtaining absentee ballots (no longer a real problem) Difficulties in obtaining absentee ballots (no longer a real problem) Too many elections – “ballot fatigue” “voter burnout” Too many elections – “ballot fatigue” “voter burnout” Young people (18 – 24) have lowest turnout. Passage of 26 th Amendment naturally reduced voter turnout Young people (18 – 24) have lowest turnout. Passage of 26 th Amendment naturally reduced voter turnout a large non-voting segment of the population was now included in voter turnout rates a large non-voting segment of the population was now included in voter turnout rates Political reasons Political reasons Lack of political efficacy (Nothing changes!) Lack of political efficacy (Nothing changes!) Dissatisfaction with candidates, parties, politics, or the campaign Dissatisfaction with candidates, parties, politics, or the campaign Lack of strong 2-party competition (My guy will lose, so why bother?) Lack of strong 2-party competition (My guy will lose, so why bother?) Weakness of parties in mobilizing voters Weakness of parties in mobilizing voters

11 Who votes? Who doesn’t? Who cares? Who votes? Who doesn’t? Who cares? Characteristics of those likely to vote Characteristics of those likely to vote Level of education: greatest predictor of voting that cuts across other factors. Those with high levels of education (regardless of race, sex, or income), are more likely to vote than those with low levels Level of education: greatest predictor of voting that cuts across other factors. Those with high levels of education (regardless of race, sex, or income), are more likely to vote than those with low levels Income: higher incomes vote more Income: higher incomes vote more Age: older voters (except for the very old) vote more Age: older voters (except for the very old) vote more Still, 75+ voters vote more than next highest age group of Still, 75+ voters vote more than next highest age group of Greatest sense of civic duty (basic responsibility of citizenship) Greatest sense of civic duty (basic responsibility of citizenship) Race: Whites vote more than Blacks, who vote more than Asians, who vote more than Hispanics Race: Whites vote more than Blacks, who vote more than Asians, who vote more than Hispanics Youth have greatest sense of apathy (I don’t care) Youth have greatest sense of apathy (I don’t care) Minorities have greatest sense of alienation (They don’t care) Minorities have greatest sense of alienation (They don’t care)

12 Does low turnout matter? Does low turnout matter? Older Whites with higher levels of income and education are overrepresented in election results Older Whites with higher levels of income and education are overrepresented in election results Problem of class bias Problem of class bias Rebuttal: some studies show that although nonvoters are demographically different, they are not politically different from voters generally, and would not vote in a significantly different way than those who do vote Rebuttal: some studies show that although nonvoters are demographically different, they are not politically different from voters generally, and would not vote in a significantly different way than those who do vote Some argue we must make it as easy to vote as possible Some argue we must make it as easy to vote as possible Some argue that if non-voters don’t care enough to make the current sacrifice, why bother making it easier? Some argue that if non-voters don’t care enough to make the current sacrifice, why bother making it easier?

13 Who Votes for Whom? The Split Personality Voter Activity The Split Personality Voter Activity Every factor to be represented and labeled Every factor to be represented and labeled Quiz the following day Quiz the following day

14 Factors Affecting Voter Behavior Who votes for whom?

15 I. Geography A. Solid South: traditionally Dem., but increasingly Rep. B. Great Plains: Republican trend C. Rocky Mountain region: Rep. trend D. New England: traditionally Rep., but increasingly Dem in recent yrs. E. Great Lakes region: Democratic trend, but several swing states (Ohio) F. Republicans have built on the “L” – Rocky Mnts.-South G. Far West: Democratic trend

16 II. Presence of an especially strong presidential candidate: coattail effect (Obama) III. Time A. Maintaining elections: political alignment remains same (eg: 1960, 1964) B. Deviating elections: temporary change in political alignment (eg: 1952, 1956) C. Critical (“realigning”) elections: long-term change in political alignment (eg: 1860, 1932) D. Midterm elections: party in power has lost seats in Congress every midterm election since 1983 (except 1998 and 2002)

17 IV. Political party identification: psychological sense of attachment to a political party A. Probably the strongest predictor of voting behavior (who one votes for) B. However, more voters likely “vote the man, not the party” more recently C. Straight ticket voting: decline in recent years. Facilitated by party-column ballot D. Split ticket voting: increase in recent yrs. Facilitated by the office-column ballot E. Some party members are classified as “strong,” and others as “weak”

18 F. Independents 1. Rising # (~1/3) decline in Dem. & Rep. members 2. Some are “leaners.” Independent Republicans or Ind. Dems. 3. Others are pure independents, with no pattern of voting behavior (~12%) 4. Many tend to be young, college educated, with above average incomes

19 V. Demographic factors A. Sex 1. Males: more likely than females to vote Rep. 2. Females: more likely than males to vote Dem (Gender gap) B. Race 1. White: more likley than nonwhites to vote Rep 2. Nonwhite: more likely to vote Dem. Blacks most loyal Dem voters C. Social class A. Lower: more likely Dem B. Upper: more likely Rep D. Religion A. Protestant: more likely Rep B. Catholic: traditionally Dem., Bush 43 won the Cath. vote in 2004 C. Jewish: more likely to vote Dem D. More religious: vote more regularly and more Rep

20 VI. Other Factors A. Labor unions tend to vote Democrat 1. Teachers unions 2. ABA (American Bar Association)


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