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Voters and Voter Behavior

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1 Voters and Voter Behavior
Unit 3, Notes 2

2 Voting Rights Framers left power to set suffrage qualifications to each state Suffrage = right to vote When constitution ratified in 1789 right to vote only allowed white, male, property owner Most could not vote Today electorate – those allowed to vote, much larger, almost anyone 18 or older Because of the many changes over 200 years of who is allowed to vote (laws) Over years this power has gradually been assumed by federal government

3 5 Stages of extending suffrage
1) Early 1800s ended any religious test to vote Had been in place during colonial days After that, states began eliminating qualifications property ownership, and tax payment 2) 15th Amendment allowed African American to vote Said no citizen can be denied right to vote because of race or color Still prevented from voting by individual state laws created to get around this 3) 19th Amendment – can not be prevented from voting because of sex

4 5 Stages of extending suffrage, Cont.
4) Voting Rights Act of 1965 – African Americans allowed to vote 23rd Amendment – gave D.C. votes in Presidential electorate 24th Amendment – eliminated poll tax 5) 26th Amendment – no state can set minimum voting age at more than 18. States still allowed power to set voter qualifications

5 Role of the states States determine who can vote
All states say you must meet qualifications based on 3 factors Citizenship Residence Age

6 Citizenship Aliens – foreign born people who live in the US but have not become citizens Are generally denied the right to vote But nothing in Constitution says they can not or states can not allow them to vote Some states will allow them to vote if they have applied for citizenship

7 Residence Must be a legal resident of state in which you want to vote
Do this for 2 reasons 1) keep political parties from bribing outsiders to come in and vote on their elections 2) all new voters (residents of state) time to get to know issues of the state and the candidates Most say you have to live in state for 30 days Most do prohibit transients – person living in state for a short time from gaining legal residence College student – only temporarily there so can’t vote But many states will allow your campus community to count for residency so you can vote

8 Age 26th Amendment - must be 18 or older
Minimum age can not be more than 18, can set less than 18 if states want to Made in 1971 during Vietnam – ratified more quickly than any other amendment “old enough to fight, old enough to vote” But you people don’t show up to vote

9 Other Qualifications Registration Must register to vote
Procedure of voter identification to prevent fraudulent voting Gives election officials list of qualified voters Must register name, age, place of birth, present address, length of residence Local election officials ordered to purge lists of registered voters remove names of those no longer eligible Some think that registering should be done away with because it hinders people from voting, especially poor, uneducated Most states have eased registration process

10 Other qualifications, Cont.
Congressed passed law requiring it Motor Voter Law – states must… 1) allow eligible citizens to register when applying for or renewing license 2) provide for voter registration by mail 3) make registration forms available at state employment, welfare, and other social service agencies 4) requires questionnaires be mailed to registered voters so poll can be purged for deaths or changes of address 5) can not be purged for failure to vote

11 literacy No state has qualification based on literacy – ability to read or write Was used to make sure voter could cast informed ballots Used unfairly to keep African Americans and Native Americans from voting Many white people asked to “understand” short passages from constitution African Americans given long, highly complex passages This sometimes hindered whites from voting Enacted grandfather clause A man or his male descendants who had voted before 15th Amendment could legally vote without passing literacy test Voting Rights Acts ended this

12 15th Amendment Right to vote cannot be denied due to race, color, or previous condition of servitude Intended to ensure that African American men could vote But all the amendment did was make this statement It did not provide a means to enforce and implement To make it effective congress would have to act would not happen for 90 years During that time African Americans were kept from polls in most of south Used violence, threats, would fire them if they registered to vote “Legal devices” were used – literacy tests Poll taxes

13 Gerrymandering Gerrymandering – drawing electoral district line to limit voting strength of particular party “white primaries” – always elected a democrat Also states defined political parties as “private associations” Can choose to exclude members, only party members could vote in primary Supreme Court outlawed gerrymandering in Alabama Gomillion v. Lightfoot AL legislature had redrawn electoral districts around Tuskegee to not include blacks in city limits Court said this violated 15th Amendment because it irregularly shaped district clearly created to deprive blacks of political power

14 Civil Rights and Voting Rights
Civil Rights Act of 1957 – set up US Civil Rights Commission Job to inquire into claims of voter discrimination Civil Rights Act of 1964 Broader and more effective Outlaws discrimination in several areas, especially job-related Forbids use of any voter registration or literacy requirement in unfair discriminatory manner Relied on judicial action to overcome problems and used federal courts to order change Injunctions – court order that either compels (forces) or restrains (limits) the performance of some act by private individual or public official A violation of an injunction may = prison Many protests and sit-ins all around South

15 Voting Rights Act of 1965 Finally made 15th Amendment actually effective Applied to all elections, federal, state, local Only for 5 years but congress had extended it each time No more use of literacy test or similar device Gave federal officers right to oversee voting in some areas

16 Voter Participation Throughout history less and less people have been exercising their right to vote Even lower rates of turnout in off year elections in congressional elections held in even-numbered years between presidential elections Nonvoter problems more than 10 million persons who voted in last presidential election could also have voted for a congressional candidate but they did not choose to They are called “nonvoting voters” They are much more common in state and local elections As a general rule, the farther down the ballot an office is, the fewer the number of votes that will be cast This is sometimes referred to as “ballot fatigue” This suggests that many voters exhaust their patience and/or knowledge as they work their way down the ballot

17 Why People do not vote Cannot-voters
Several million persons who are regularly identified as nonvoters can be more accurately described as “cannot voters” They don’t vote, but they actually cannot do so Some of these people are resident aliens They are barred from the polls in every state Others may be sick or disabled Other reasons include mental condition, prison or religious beliefs

18 Actual Nonvoters Millions of actual nonvoters
Those who could have voted in presidential election but did not Number of reasons for this Many who could vote do not because they are convinced that it makes little real difference who wins The large group contains two different groups of non-voters It includes many who generally approve of the way the public business is being managed They believe no matter who wins things will continue to go well Many other feel alienated Many who deliberately refuse to vote because they don’t trust political institutions Others believe their vote has no real impact on what government does or the outcome of the election

19 Factors Affecting turnout
Other factors affect whether voters show up at poll Cumbersome election procedures inconvenient registration requirements long ballots, long lines at polling place Of all reasons the major cause for nonvoting is lack of interest Most often they do not know even the simplest facts about the candidates and issues involved

20 Comparing voters and non-voters
Many differences between them People most likely to vote display characteristics as higher levels of income, education and occupational status Tend to be long-time residents who are active in or comfortable with their surroundings Likely to have strong sense of party identification and believe that voting is an important act Nonvoters likely to be younger than 35, unmarried, unskilled More in the South and rural areas Today women more likely to vote than men

21 Sociological factors Parts of voters social and economic life that affect voting Income, occupation Voters in lower income brackets more like to be democrats Voters in higher income brackets tend to be republicans Professional and business people tend to vote republican Gender, Age Women tend to favor democrats, Men = republican Younger voters – more likely democrat Religious, Ethic Protestants – republican Catholic, Jewish – democrat African American – democrat Latino - democrat

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