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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 10 Overview Introduction: Case Study--The Motor-Voter Law, 1995-2002; Political Participation and Democracy Political participation, especially in the form of voting, is essential to a democracy. Full participation on the part of every citizen is a democratic ideal. Political participation most often produces political stability; those who participate exhibit greater levels of satisfaction with their political system. Although participation may create political tension, over time the act of participation leads both to democratic outcomes and increased acceptance of the system. The introductory case study deals with the National Voter Registration Act, also known as the motor-voter law, that became operational in 1995. While designed to make voter registration easier and hence to increase voter turnout, the actual result has been only more voter registrations, not more voters coming to the polls. Apparently, "costless registrations" are associated with nonvoting registrants. Still, trouble with registration was apparently the main variable in explaining why some three million citizens did not vote in the 2000 presidential election. Who Participates? Citizens fall along a continuum of political engagement. While only about one-tenth of the population are very active politically, nearly one-half do participate in some way. It is true; however, that the group of political activists is concentrated at the upper income levels of society, suggesting that there is not equal participation by all. A Brief History of Voting in the United States The vote is the key to democracy; and the history of the United States has been the history of breaking down barriers to the vote. Originally, only white men of property had the suffrage. Over the years, the right to vote has been steadily expanded to include those that do not own property, African-Americans, and women. Although the Fifteenth amendment to the Constitution extended voting rights to African-American males, Southern states continued to resist this expansion of suffrage. They did so with intimidation, poll taxes, literacy tests, and good-character tests. These issues werent resolved until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Twenty-Fourth amendment (1964) to the Constitution outlawing the poll tax in federal elections, and the 1966 Supreme Court decision finding state poll tax laws unconstitutional. Women won the right to vote with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) and all citizens over the age of eighteen were given the right to vote with the passage of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment (1971). over the age of eighteen were given the right to vote with the passage of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment (1971)....
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2011 for the course POLITICAL 210 taught by Professor Amitage during the Spring '08 term at San Mateo Colleges.
- Spring '08