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The Right to Vote The Framers of the Constitution purposefully left the power to set suffrage qualifications to each State When the Constitution went into.

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Presentation on theme: "The Right to Vote The Framers of the Constitution purposefully left the power to set suffrage qualifications to each State When the Constitution went into."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Right to Vote The Framers of the Constitution purposefully left the power to set suffrage qualifications to each State When the Constitution went into effect in 1789, the right to vote was restricted to white male property owners. Only 1 in 15 adult white males could vote in elections Today, more than 205 million people qualify to vote

2 5 Stages of Extending Suffrage
Early 1800s – religious qualifications disappeared, followed by property ownership and tax qualifications. By the mid 1800s almost all adult white male could vote. Following the Civil War, the 15th amendment tried to end voter discrimination due to race. 19th amendment guaranteed the right to vote for women During the 1960s, Congress took steps to guarantee suffrage for African Americans 26th amendment extended voting rights to 18 year olds

3 The Power to Set Voting Qualifications
5 Restrictions placed on States Each state must allow eligible voters to vote in all elections within the state No state can deprive a person the right to vote because of race No state can deprive a person the right to vote on account of gender No state can require the payment of a poll tax No state can deprive a person over the age of 18 the right to vote because of age.

4 Voter Qualifications 3 factors used to determine voter eligibility
Citizenship Residence Important to keep political machines from importing enough outsiders to affect the outcome of the election and to ensure that every voter has at least some time in which to become familiar with the candidates and issues in an election. Age

5 Other Requirements Registration Literacy Tests
It gives officials a list of people who are eligible to vote in elections, and it helps to prevent voter fraud. Motor Voter Law Allows citizens to register to vote when they renew their driver’s license Literacy Tests Ruled illegal by the Voting Rights Act of 1970 Citizens must pass a literacy test to be able to vote. Used as a barrier to prevent African Americans from voting after the Civil War “grandfather clause” – because many whites also could not read or write, literacy tests contained a provision that stated a person may vote without passing a literacy test if any male ancestor could vote.

6 Other Requirements (cont.)
Poll Tax Declared illegal in the 24th amendment Required a tax be paid prior to participating in an election.

7 The 15th Amendment “Right to vote cannot be denied to any citizen of the United States because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Intended to ensure the right to vote for African Americans Southerners tried to block the effect of this amendment by using intimidation, literacy tests, poll taxes, gerrymandering, and white primaries

8 Gerrymandering The practice of drawing electoral district lines in order to limit the voting strength of a particular group or party. Ruled unconstitutional in Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960)

9 White Primaries Because political parties are “private associations” they believed they could bar African Americans from voting in primary elections, thus excluding them from an important step in the public election process Smith v. Allwright (1944) outlawed white primaries because nominations are an integral part of the election process

10 Civil Rights Legislation
Civil Rights Act of 1957 Set up the U.S. Civil Rights Commission to check into claims of voter discrimination, gave the attorney general authority to prevent interference with any person’s right to vote in a federal election Civil Rights of 1960 Added an additional safeguard by allowing the appointment of federal voting referees when voter discrimination is uncovered

11 Legislation (cont.) Civil Rights Act of 1964 Voting Rights Act of 1965
Broader and more effective than its predecessors. Outlaws discrimination in several areas, especially job related matters Forbids the use of any voter registration or literacy requirement in an unfair or discriminatory manner and makes violation a federal offence Voting Rights Act of 1965 Made the 15th amendment a truly effective part of the Constitution Applied to all elections held anywhere in the country

12 Voter Behavior In the 2000 election million Americans were eligible to vote Only million (51.2%) actually voted for president Only 99 million (48%) voted for U.S. Representative In the 1998 off-year election, only 66,033 (33.9%) voted for U.S. Representative

13 Why People Don’t Vote “cannot vote” nonvoters (20 million)
Resident aliens Ill or physically cannot make it to the polls Traveling out of country unexpectedly People in mental health care facilities In jail or prison Religious nonvoters Actual nonvoters (80 million) People deliberately choose not to vote Convinced it makes no real difference who wins Satisfaction Distrust of politics and politicians Lack of political efficacy (lack of any sense of their own influence or effectiveness in politics.)

14 Factors Affecting Turnout
Complicated election procedures Inconvenient registration requirements Long ballots Long lines at polling places Bad weather Time-zone Fallout Because polls have closed in the east and central time-zones, a winner may be declared before some people vote in the mountain and pacific zones Lack of Interest

15 Who Votes? The people most likely to vote:
Display such characteristics as higher levels of income, education, and occupational status. They are well-integrated into community life, long-time residents, who are active and comfortable in their surroundings Strong party identification, and believe voting is important Women are more likely to vote than men

16 Who Doesn’t Vote? People are less likely to vote if:
They are younger than 35, unmarried, and unskilled They live in the South and in rural areas

17 Sociological Factors Political Socialization is the process by which people come to believe what they believe about politics Factors that influence voting behavior Income, occupation (higher income – Republican) Education (more education – Republican, however, education make you more liberal) Gender, Age (women, young people – Democrat) Religion (Protestants – Republican, Catholics, Jews – Democrat) Geography (South/Midwest – Republican, Northeast/West – Democrat) Family (You vote the way your parents voted)

18 Psychological Factors
A strong party identification is the single most significant and lasting predictor of how a person will vote. Straight-ticket voting – voting for candidates of only one party in an election Split-ticket voting – voting for candidates of more than one party in the same election The impression a candidate makes on the voters can have an impact on how they will vote The role of issues are especially important in presidential elections, people care about the things that effect them most.

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