Political Participation Essay

Submitted By Calirobins
Words: 803
Pages: 4

I. A closer look at nonvoting
A. Alleged problem: low turnout compared with Europeans, but this compares registered voters with the eligible adult population
B. Common explanation: voter apathy on election day, but the real problem is low registration rates
C. Proposed solution: get-out-the-vote drives, but this will not help those who are not registered
D. Apathy not the only cause of nonregistration
D.1. Costs here versus no costs in European countries where registration is automatic
D.2. Motor-voter law of 1993 (which took effect in 1995)
D.2.a. Did not create a general boom in vote turnout
D.2.b. Did increase registration among eligible voters
D.2.c. Did not change the two party balance of registrants
D.2.d. Did increase the number of independent registrants
D.2.e. May actually add registrants who are less likely to vote
E. Voting is not the only way of participating
II. The rise of the American electorate
A. From state to federal control
A.1. Initially, states decided nearly everything
A.2. This led to wide variation in federal elections
A.3. Congress has since reduced state prerogatives
A.3.a. 1842 law: House members elected by district
A.3.b. Suffrage to women
A.3.c. Suffrage to blacks
A.3.d. Suffrage to eighteen- to twenty-year-olds
A.3.e. Direct popular election of U.S. senators
A.4. Black voting rights
A.4.a. Fifteenth Amendment gutted by Supreme Court as not conferring a right to vote
A.4.b. Southern states then use evasive strategies
A.4.b.1. Literacy test
A.4.b.2. Poll tax
A.4.b.3. White primaries
A.4.b.4. Grandfather clauses
A.4.b.5. Intimidation of black voters
A.4.c. Most of these strategies ruled out by Supreme Court
A.4.d. Major change with 1965 Voting Rights Act; black vote increases
A.5. Women's voting rights
A.5.a. Western states permit women to vote
A.5.b. Nineteenth Amendment ratified 1920
A.5.c. No dramatic changes in outcomes
A.6. Youth vote
A.6.a. Voting Rights Act of 1970
A.6.b. Twenty-sixth Amendment ratified 1971
A.6.c. Lower turnout; no particular party
A.7. National standards now govern most aspects
B. Voter turnout
B.1. Debate over declining percentages: two theories
B.1.a. The percentages are real and the result of a decline in popular interest in elections and competitiveness of the two parties
B.1.a.1. Parties originally worked hard to increase turnout among all voters
B.1.a.2. The election of 1896 locked Democrats in the South and Republicans in the North
B.1.a.3. Lopsided Republican victories caused citizens to lose interest
B.1.a.4. Leadership in the major parties became conservative and resisted mass participation
B.1.b. The percentages represent an apparent decline induced, in part, by more honest ballot counts of today.
B.1.b.1. Parties once printed ballots
B.1.b.2. Ballots cast in public
B.1.b.3. Parties controlled counting
B.1.c. Most scholars see several reasons for some real decline.
B.1.c.1. Registration more difficult: longer residency, educational qualifications, and discrimination
B.1.c.2. Continuing drop after 1960 cannot be explained
B.1.c.3. Refinement of VAP data to VEP data also reveals a decline
B.1.d. Universal turnout probably would not alter election outcomes
III. Who participates in politics?