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Unformatted text preview: Political Participation and Voting: Expressing the Popular Will Chapter 7 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 1 Related Links Debate: Voting Systems Are Fair Debate: Anyone Can Be Elected Presi Simulation: Running for Congress Simulation: Immigration Video Theater: Free Association In Am Video Theater: Despotism 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 2 Related Links Soapbox: Lyndon Johnson on Voting R Debate: Federal government should d Simulation: Bioterrorism Research Lab Participate: Wetlands vs. Tuition Participate: ADA (Wheelchairs) Participate: Make Voting Fair 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 3 Voter Participation Suffrage is the right to vote When U.S. first founded, only white male property owners could vote Other groups gained suffrage later 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 4 Factors in Voter Turnout: The United States in Comparative Perspective Voter turnout is the proportion of people of voting age who actually vote Since the 1960s, has averaged around 55% in presidential elections Congressional elections even lower -- around 40% U.S. turnout much less than other democracies 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 5 Presidential Turnout Rates for Voting-Age Population (VAP) and Eligible Population (VEP) After 1960, voter turnout declined steadily. In the past two decades, voter turnout has fluctuated, depending on the issues at stake in a particular election. The 2004 election had a relatively high turnout due to Americans' concern with Iraq and the economy. Source: the United States Election Project, George Mason University. 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 6 Registration Requirements "Register and Vote" event, Texas (Bob Daemmerich/Stock Boston) Early 1900s saw beginning of registration requirements to combat corruption Registration hurts voter turnout because voters must make effort Other countries place responsibility for registration on the government
7 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates Frequency of Elections The U.S. has more elections than any other democracy More elected officials Short terms of office. Separate election dates Elections usually are held during the week In Europe, elections on Saturday or the day is declared a holiday Voters in voting booths, Austin, TX (Bob Daemmrich/ The Image Works)
8 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates Party Differences For most issues, little difference between Republicans and Democrats European voters have more parties with more sharply defined differences Link to list of political parties in the United Kingdom: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/regulatory-issues/partylinks In elections where more difference is perceived (2004), voter turnout is greater 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 9 The Perceived Effect of Electing a Republican or a Democratic President
2000 Election 2004 Election Don't know, 5% Only a little/None, 28% Just some, 35% Don't know 5% Only a little/None 23% Just some 22% Great deal/Quite a bit, 32% Great deal/Quite a bit 50% Many Americans believe that the country will not be greatly affected by whether the Republican or Democratic presidential candidate is elected. However, the proportion holding this belief shrinks when, as in the 2004 campaign, Americans think important issues are at stake in the election. Source: The Vanishing Voter Project, Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University. Published by permission of project director. 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 10 Why Some Americans Vote and Others Do Not Civic Attitudes Those who vote believe voting is a civic duty Non-voters may have no interest in politics (apathy) or feel powerless (alienation) 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 11 Other Factors in Voter Participation Age Older people more likely to vote Young adults much less likely to vote MTV's Moveon.org and RocktheVote.com has tried to change this Education and Income More education = 2x more likely to vote Higher income = 2x more likely to vote 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 12 Voter Turnout and Income in the 2004 Presidential Election
Percentage voting 90.0% 80.0% 70.0% 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 20.0% 10.0% 0.0% Less than $20,000 $20,000 to $29,999 $30,000 to $39,999 $40,000 to $49,999 $50,000 to $74,999 $75,000 to $99,999 $100,000 and over Annual Family Income Lower-income Americans are much less likely to vote than are higher-income Americans, which is different from the situation in European democracies, where income level has only a marginal influence on voter turnout level.
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006. 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 13 Conventional Forms of Participation Other Than Voting Campaign Activities working for a candidate or going to a rally Lobbying Group Contributions contributions or writing to government 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 14 Campaign Activity
Poland Sweden Mexico Germany France United States Talked to people 6% 6% 4% 3% 7% 13% 9% 13% 27% 28% 29% 42% Took political action Although Americans are less likely to vote in elections than citizens elsewhere, they are more likely to engage in other campaign activities, such as trying to influence the vote choice of others. Source: Surveys by Comparative Studies of Electoral Systems, 2001-4.
Reported in Russell J. Dalton, "The Myth of the Disengaged American," CSES Report, October 25, 2005, web release. 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 15 Conventional Forms of Participation Other Than Voting Community Activities working with an organization to make your community a better place Attending to the News vital to democracy 1/3 follows daily; 1/3 intermittently; 1/3 only if extraordinary event 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 16 Other Kinds of Participation Virtual Participation packed with political sites and participation possibilities News sites Political blogs Political chat rooms Political activist sites 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 17 Unconventional Activism: Social Movements and Protest Politics Democracy gives citizens a way to express views Conversely, vote gives government control over citizens because officials freely chosen Vote also limited by candidates on ballot 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 18 Unconventional Activism: Social Movements and Protest Politics Social or political movements are broad efforts to achieve change Boston Tea Party Civil rights movement Viet Nam war protests Iraq war protests 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 19 Americans' Opinions of Iraq War Protests Should not demonstrate, but have right to do so 20% Should not be allow ed to demonstrate 16% Don't know 3% Have right to demonstrate 61% A majority supported the right of antiwar protestors to demonstrate, although some Americans felt they should not be allowed to do so. Source: ABC news/Washington Post
poll, March 23, 2003. 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 20 Participation and the Potential for Influence U.S. tendency towards individualism affects political participation by limiting sense of urgency Americans make a strong distinction between private and national life. Sharp distinction between economic classes in political power. People with lower incomes tend to participate less, which means less influence 2007 Susan Roomberg, SKR Associates 21 ...
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