Voter Turnout in 2008 Presidential Election • 61.7% • 132.5 million
Who Voted in 2008? • What are benefits of voting? • What are costs of voting? • 2004 Presidential Election • US Census Bureau, • Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004
Who Votes? • Socioeconomic Status (SES) Explanation • voters with higher income and education have the civic skills to understand the value of voting, the difference between the candidates. • Policy Implication
SES Explanation • description or explanation • Alternative Explanations • Policy Implications • Political considerations • Change the rules, change the electorate • Change the electorate, change the outcomes • Elected officials make the rules
Policy Implications • Same Day/Election Day Registration (MN, WI, NH, ID, ME, WY) • Motor Voter Registration
Same Day/Election Day Registration • (MN, WI, NH, ID, ME, WY) 5 of 7 top states in turnout
Least likely to be registered • Young, mobile, less affluent, minority • Ohio- just adopted same day voter registration • 490,000 college students • Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner
Source: Young voters,USA TODAY/MTV/Gallup Poll, Sept. 18-28, 60+, Black, Latino, Sep 13, Gallup
Motor Voter Registration • register by mail, applying for a driver's license, at all offices that provide public assistance
Impact of Motor Voter • “We find little evidence that early voting reforms increase turnout with the exception of VBM in Oregon, and then only in presidential elections. In midterm elections, none of the reforms has a statistically significant impact on turnout….”
Too Many Elections • 521,000 elected offices • National, state, local, school, library, referendums • ..\..\toomanyelections.xls
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2006
Why hold elections on Tuesday? • National Holiday • Mail-in Voting
Electoral System • US- first past the post system • Europeans- proportional representation • Consequences • fosters 2 parties • hurts smaller parties • No pro-life party, green party, or African American party • 148 candidates in CA recall election = 70% turnout?
Lack of Mobilization • 1876-1896, turnout in presidential elections averaged 80% • Now, Unprecedented GOTV- 59% • Does it matter if you vote in New York, Texas, or California?
Voter ID Laws • GA- voters to present either a driver's license or a state-issued photo ID 2005 • 35$ available at DMV
Milwaukee Black Voters League Flier • “if anyone in your family has ever been found guilty of anything, even a traffic violation, you can't vote in the presidential election. If you violate any of these laws you can get ten years in prison and your children will get taken away from you." 2004
Costs Registration Hassles Information ======== Solutions Easier registration E vote, mail in ballots Group mobilization Fewer elections Benefits Psychic Policy Solutions Minority voters Conservatives in 98’ Reduce cynicism about politics Vote matters Costs v. Benefits of Voting
low turnout NOT a problem • reflects contentment • George Will “As more people are nagged to the polls, the caliber of the electorate declines. • no difference between voters and non-voters preferences • What happens with record turnout?
2 Recent High Turnout Elections 1998 MN Gubernatorial Race 2003 CA Recall Election
Low Turnout IS a problem • Voting pool is unrepresentative of nation • HMO bill of rights vs uninsured