Enterprising political activists can use these names for absentee ballots. Voting in National, State, and Local Elections o In 2000, there were 200 million eligible voters. Of that number, 101 million actually went to the polls. The participation rate during the 2000 presidential elections was only 50.7% of eligible voters o When there is a race for governor and U.S. representatives during a presidential election year, voting is higher than off years. o Voter turnout for local races (mayor, city council, county auditor, and the like) are low (about 25% or less of the electorate vote). The Effect of Low Voter Turnout Some view the decline of voter turnout as a clear threat to our representative democratic government Signals apathy about our political system in general May also signal that potential voters simply do not want to take the time to learn about the issues Some say it is easier for an authoritarian figure to take over our government Some believe low voter turnout simply indicates more satisfaction with the status quo Factors Influencing Who Votes Age – the voter turnout increases with older age groups – may be due to being more settled in their lives, are already registered, and have more experience in voting as an expected activity. Educational Attainment – the more educated you are, the likely you are to vote Minority Status – whites vote more than blacks or other minorities Income Levels – wealthier people tend to be overrepresented in elections Two-party Competition – the extent to which elections are competitive within a state Why People Do Not Vote Political Withdrawal – Ruy A. Teixeira believes that the factor that has contributed most significantly to the decline in voting turnout since 1960 is not the “cost” of voting but the increasing social and political disconnectedness of American society → decline in church memberships, social memberships, and community identity, along with the extraordinary increase in political cynicism and distrust, fewer and fewer citizens feel involved enough in their community to be interested in voting. The Rational Ignorance Effect – is a condition in which people purposely and rationally decide not to obtain information; to remain ignorant -- if citizens believe that their votes will not affect the outcome of an election, then they have little incentive to seek the information they need to cast intelligent votes. 9
If the cost of voting goes up (in terms of time and inconvenience) the number of eligible voters who actually vote will fall. In particular, bad weather on election day means that on average, smaller percentages of eligible voters will go to the polls. Campaign Effects – some suggest that the length of the campaigns and the amount of negative advertising actually drives voters away from the polls.
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- Fall '17
- Lisa Schnirel