Part 1: The Right to Vote & Qualifications How have voting rights changed over time? What restrictions exist on the States’ power to set qualifications? • What are the universal requirements for voting in the US? • What other requirements have States used or still use as qualifications?
Voting Rights History The Constitution purposely left the power to set suffrage qualifications to each State. Suffrage & Franchise means the right to vote. The electorateis all of the people entitled to vote. Initially, suffragewas limited to white male property owners. • Today, the American electorate is over 200 million. • Nearly all citizens at least 18 years old can qualify to vote.
Extending Suffrage The 5 Stages of Suffrage Expansion: ‘65: Voting Rights Act guaranteed minorities’ right to vote. ’64: 24th Amendment eliminated the poll tax. 5.1971: 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18. 1.Early 1800s:religious, property, and tax payment qualifications gradually eliminated. 2.1870: 15th Amendment intended to end race-based voting requirements. 3.1920: 19th Amendment extends suffrage to women. 4.1960s:
Voter Qualifications Constitution sets limits on States’ voter qualifications: The States Cannot…
Universal Requirements • 3 Voter Eligibility Requirements Citizenship • Most States require US citizenship Residence • Most States require residency for minimum amounts of time Age • 26th Amendment requires that no State set a minimum voting age above 18.
Other Qualifications • All states except North Dakota require citizens to register to vote. • Registrationis a procedure of voter ID intended to prevent fraud. States also restrict certain members of the population, such as those mentally incompetent or convicted of serious crimes.
Nonvoters • Only 64 %of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2004 presidential election. • Voter turnout significantly decreases in off-year elections, congressional elections held in years without a presidential election. • 46% in 2006
Part 2: Voter Behavior What is the nonvoting problem and what is its scope? Why do people not vote? How can we compare the voting behavior of voters and nonvoters? What are the sociological and psychological factors that affect voting?
Why People Do Not Vote • “Cannot” nonvoters: • physical or mental illness • unexpected travel • resident alien citizenship status • “Will not” nonvoters • voting is inconvenient, • “vote doesn’t count” • distrust politics and political candidates
Voters and Voting Behavior We learn about voting behavior from: • The results of elections—studying the results of voting compared to the population make-up of a particular sector • The field of survey research— conducting polls across specific cross sections of the population • Studies of political socialization—studying political socialization, the process by which people gain their political attitudes and opinions
Sociological Factors“Society’s Influence” Voter opinion is a combination of all of these factors and more.
Psychological Factors Party Identification • The loyalty of people to a party is the most significant and lasting predictor of how they vote. Candidates and Issues • Candidates and issues are two short-term factors that can influence even the most loyal Democrat or Republican.