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Define Voter Turnout
The proportion of persons of voting age who actually vote in a given election
What is the voter turnout a form of? And how is voting turnout in the U.S?
-Voting is a form of POLITICAL PARTICIPATION which is the involvement in activities intended to influence public policy and leadership
-Voter turnout in the U.S election is LOW in comparison with other western democracies (60% in the U.S vs 90% in Belgium and 75% in Germany and Denmark)
Why is voter turnout low in the U.S?
-election laws, particular pertaining to registration requirements and scheduling of elections
-most Americans make a distinction between their personal life and political life. This outlook reduces their incentive to participate and contributes to a pattern of participation dominated by citizens of higher education and income
What is the relationship between Americans and voting?
-Most citizens do NOT participate actively in politics, in ways other than voting. Only a MINORITY of Americans can be classified as political activists... However, Americans are more likely than citizens of any other democracy to contribute time and money to political community organizations.
What is voting like today?
-Today nearly any American adult who is determined to vote can legally to do so. Nearly all Americans embrace the symbolism vote as their duty but many shirk that duty.
-Millions choose NOT to vote regularly: a tendency that sets Americans apart from other citizens of most other Western democracies.
-In the past 20 years, voter turnout has averaged roughly 60% in presidential elections (*
3 in 5 vote
How is voter turnout of presidential elections in comparison to congressional and local elections?
-Presidential elections are not very high, but they are much higher than midterm congressional elections, which take place between presidential elections
-Midterm turnout has NOT reached 50% since 1920 and has hovered around 40% in recent decades; local elections are even LOWER with a turnout rate of 20%
What are some factors that contribute to low voter turnout in the U.s?
-America's low turnout rate is partly the result of demanding registration requirements and the greater frequency of elections. Americans are responsible for registering to vote, whereas most democratic governments register citizens automatically.
-Unlike other democracies, the U.S does not promote voting by holding elections on the weekends or imposing penalties on those who don't vote
-The U.S' absence of a major labor or socialist party effects turnout rate. This party encourages lower-income voters, where this part exists voter turnout between upper and lower classes is small, where as in U.S its substantial. The U.S' individuals culture and electoral system inhibits such a party to exist.
What are the three major reasons that hinder who votes?
1. education & income
3. civic attitudes
How does education and income influence who votes?
-College educated and upper income Americans have above average voting rates b/c they have the financial resources and communication skills that encourage participation and make voting personally rewarding
-Europeans with less education and income vote at only slightly lower rates b/c they are encouraged by the presence of class-based organizations and appeals
-College education and upper-income Americans are 50% more likely to vote in presidential elections
-Americans with less income and education are most affected by the countrys registration system b/c many do not own cars or homes, thus are less likely to be registered in advance, and they are less familiar with registration locations and requirements
How does age affect voter turnout?
-Young adults are substantially less likely than middle aged and older citizens to vote. Even senior citizens, despite the challenges of old age, have far higher voter turnout rates than voters under 30 (even higher at state local level)
-Younger adults are less likely to live in the same residence from one election to another and are more likely to have to register in order to establish their eligibility to vote .
-The turnout rate for younger adults has been higher in recent elections and has developed a more positive attitude about voting
How do civic attitudes affect voting?
-APATHY: a lack of interest in politics typifies some citizens; they rarely vote
-Others refrain from voting due to alienation-- a feeling of powerlessness rooted in the belief that gov. pays no attention to their interests; many of these people regard voting as a waste of time
-Some Americans have a keen sense of civic duty--- a belief that they ought to participate in public affairs; these citizens tend to vote more regularly.
What is the significance of voter interest in politics?
-The likelihood that citizens will vote varies with their interest in politics. Citizens with a strong or moderate interest in politics are much more likely to vote than those with little or no interest
-Political interest is in large part a consequence of partisianship
What is the relationship between voter turnout and independent voters?
-Independent voters have much lower voting rates than citizens who identify with a party
-In recent elections, 75% of party identifiers voted compared to 50% of independents. This is because they are more familiar with the policy differences between the parties and therefore are more likely to be aware of the elections consequences
-Moreover, party loyalist is like other people's loyalties--- it deepens their involvement and voting expressed their commitment.
What is suffrage and the relevant amendments to African American voters?
-Suffrage is the right to vote, a vote that was limited to property owning white males. African Americans are appeared to have gained the right to vote after the Civil War, with the passing of the 15th Amendment, which says the right to vote cannot be abridged on account of race, color, or condition of servitude.
-But they were defranchised in the South through electoral trickery such as intimidation and rigged requirements to vote which resulted in some south counties to have no almost no black registrants
-Not until 1965... Congress and the Courts swept away the lost legal barriers equal suffrage for African Americans with the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Describe Womens suffrage and relevant amendments a well as young adults suffrage
-Women did not secure the right to vote until 1920 with the ratification of the 9th amendment. By 1920, men had run out of excuses for denying women the right to vote.
-The nation's youngest adults are the most recent beneficiaries of a suffrage Amendment. Ratified during the Vietnam war, a time when the draft was in full swing and the minimum voting age in nearly every state was 21---- the 26th amendment lowered it to 18.
What is voting registration and when did it begin?
-Americans must be registered to vote, which places their name on an official list of voter's before they are eligible to exercise the right to vote
-Registration began around 1900.... as a way of preventing voters from casting more than one vote. Although it reduced illegal voting, it placed a burden on most citizens who forgot or failed to do so were unable to vote. Turnout in the U.S elections has declined over since.
How does U.S voting registration requirements compare to other democracies?
-Other democracies also require registration but most of them place the responsibility on the gov. The U.S keeping with its individualistic culture is one of the few democracies who place the responsibility on the individual
What is the relationship of voting registration and the states government?
-Traditionally, the state governments have determined registration requirements and some states make it relatively difficult for citizens to qualify
-Although the 1933 Motor Voter Act requires all states to allow people to register when they apply for a drivers license or public assistance, some states make little effort otherwise to inform citizens about registration times and locations
-Turnout would be roughly 10% higher if the U.S had a European style registration
What is the relationship between state registration laws and voter turnout?
-States with convenient registration laws have higher turnout rates than others. A few states allow people to register at their polling places on election day. Their turnout rates are more than 10% higher than the national average
-States with the most restrictive registration laws have turnout rates well below the national average. Several of these states are in the south, which even today have the lowest turnout rate.
What are voter id cards and who supports them?
-A recent devise which serves to discourage voter turnout. Legislators in a growing number of states have enacted laws requiring citizens to have government issues id in order to register to vote
-The republicans mainly supporting these laws believe government issue ID is needed to prevent voter fraud
-Opponents whom are mostly democrats believe this is a thinly disguised effort to keep low income people from voting
Who were the first 2 states to enact voter id laws?
-INDIANA and GEORGIA
-Georgia law required citizens without gov issues ID to obtain a voter id card that would cost $20 and expire in 5 years. Had to go to DMV with birth certificate and other documents. Georgia democrats challenged the law, citing voter fraud to be rare but the federal judge upheld only subtracting the $20 fee
-in 2008, the supreme court ruled on a case involving Indiana's voter ID law, similar to Georgia, also upheld the law bc states have a valid interest in improving election procedures and deterring fraud
What are the 3 conventional forms of political participation?
1. Campaign and lobbying activists
2. Virtual Participation
3. Community Activities
Are Campaign and lobbying activists popular?
-Working for a candidate is more time consuming than voting and only a small percentage of people engage in such activities
Campaign and Lobbying activists in the U.S vs EUROPE
-The U.S: More ppl engage in such activities in the U.S than in Europe. One reason is b/c Americans are more active in campaigns, even though they vote less, the U.S federal system has campaigns for national, state and local levels, so a citizen who wants to participate can more easily find opportunities
-Also, Americans are the most likely to support activity of political groups. This support usually takes form in money contributions, but also contracting law makers and attending public rallies
-Europe: Most European governments are unitary in form, meaning there are fewer elective offices, thus fewer campaigns.
Describe the conventional form of political participation known as virtual participation
-The internet opened up an entirely new avenue for political participation. Through e-mail, chat rooms, and social networks the internet has created participation possibilities that were previously unimaginable. Much of this involves contact with friends, acquaintances and activists. Internet participation peaks during presidential campaigns and now easily outstrips conventional participation.
-A number of groups have built extensive online organizations
How does virtual participation have a democratizing effect?
-The democratizing effect of the web had been noted widely and as the internet use and technology continue to advance, an era of unprecedented citizen involvement and influence could result. Social networking is a powerful grassroots organizing force even in non-democratic societies
What is the purpose of community activities?
-Citizens can join community groups, work to accomplish community goals and let officials know their opinions on community matters. These forms of participation offer citizens a substantial degree of control over the timing and extent of their participation
What is the chief obstacle to community activity participation?
-The motivation to join in. With abundant opportunities most people choose not to get involved, particularly when it comes to time consuming activities
How involved are Americans in community affairs?
-Tens of millions of Americans are involved in community affairs through local organizations such as the PTO, neighborhood groups, business clubs, church affiliated groups and hospital auxiliaries. This reflects a tradition of local participation that dates to colonial times
How does community affairs differ in the U.S than in Europe?
-U.S: have greater authority over local policies, giving their residents a motive to participate actively. Because of increased mobilization and other factors, Americans may be less tied to their local communities than in the past, therefore are less involved in the community. Americans are more than twice as likely to work together in groups on issues of community concern.
What is America's social capital like?
-America has been undergoing a long term DECLINE in social capital, which is the sum of face to face civic interactions among citizens in a society. This is due largely to television and other activities that draw people away from involvement in civic and political groups, especially seen in older citizens
Why are young adults more likely to participate in community activities?
-Younger adults have become more involved in their communities in recent years b/c of highschool and college internship programs! Volunteering in young people has increased 20% since 1990.
What are the two unconventional forms of political participation discussed in this chapter?
1) Social Movements
2) Protest Politics
Before the democratic era; why did people protest?
-people protested as a way of expressing displeasure with their rules, such as riots. But when a democratic government was established citizens used a less disruptive approach--- their votes. But voting is double edged; it gives citizens control over the gov and vice versa
What are social movements and how are they channeled?
-Social Movement or political movements are a way for citizens disenchanted with government policy to actively express their opposition
-Their efforts are channeled through conventional forms of participation such as political lobbying, but sometimes citizens take to the streets to protest
What is the biggest political protest in the U.S?
The Black Civil Rights Movement... included mass demonstration and marches
How have political protests changed in recent years?
-Protest was traditionally a desperate act that began, often spontaneously, when a group had a lost hope of succeeding by more conventional methods
-Now, protest is usually a planned event and a means of bringing added attention to a cause. Many groups such as civil rights, agricultural, abortion, etc., have recently staged large political protests
Significance of the Tea Party Movement
-One of the best organized and most sustained protest movements in decades. Tea party came to the publics attention the day federal income taxes were due in 2009
-Ppl expressed their opposition of high taxes. Backed by wealthy conservative donors, they became a major force in politics.
-Their uncompromising position on fiscal issues contributed to a congressional dead lock that nearly put the U.S gov in default for the first time. Thus, weakening their standing with the public
Significance of the Occupy Wall Street Movement
-OWS emerged in 2011 and began as a single camp in NYC, but within a few weeks it had spread to dozens of other cities . OWS was angry at the gov. bailout of the financial industry and its failure to hold bankers accountable for their role in the financial crisis. Their target was private wealth aimed to curb the political influence of large donors and the Bush-era tex policies that benefited the wealthiest
-OWS succeeded in getting the attention of the public. They highlighted the wide wealth gap and support was on the rise. Local officials began to ban the camps.
What is the future for the two movements?
-Both mobilized hundreds of thousands of Americans and their futures are uncertain
-The Tea Party followers have been largely absorbed by the GOP and could have difficulty resurrecting itself as an independent force again
-The OWS' future is uncertain in a differant way bc they resisted ties with liberal organizations and the Democratic Party; meaning much of its momentum was lost when the camps shut down. OWS is attempting to redefine itself as a more conventional movement but the success of the effort is by no means assured.
What is the history of protest politics in the U.S?
-long history. The U.S was founded on a protest movement that sparked a revolution against Britain. Protest activity is less common today (6%) in the U.S than in many western democracies
How is the publics attitude toward protest politics?
-Public support for protest activity is relatively low in the U.S. The Vietnam war protests only had marginal support and when unarmed student protestors were shot 58% of Americans faulted the students
-The general public was more accepting of the Iraq war with 3 in 5 seeing the protests as a sign of a healthy democracy. Still, Americans do not embrace it in the way they do voting or community activities. In this sense, protest is seen as something to be accepted but not necessarily admired
Why are Americans not active in politics?
B/c of the emphasis on indivdiaulism in its culture. Most americans under most conditions expect to solve their problems on their own rather than through political action
Why are lower income Americans the least likely to vote?
-Greater need for government help. Elected officials are more responsive to the concerns of affluent constituents than to poorer constituents. Those who have the most power in the market place also have the most power in the political arena.
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