Voters and Voter Behavior

Historically -- Voter Requirements were Established by Individual States

With the Passage of the 26th Amendment and Many of the Civil Rights Acts, the state has very little "say so" in who votes

26th Amendment -- 18 Year Old Right to Vote

Civil Rights Act of 1957/1960 -- Allowed the Federal Government to inquire into Voter Discrimination, and Appoint Federal Workers to Oversee the Elections.

Civil Rights Act 1964 -- Eliminated Voter Registration Requirements that were Unfair.

Civil Rights Act 1965 -- Included all Elections -- State and Local, as well as, Federal

                     1. Suspended any type of Literacy Test
                     2. Eliminated Poll Tax
                     3. Appoint Federal Voting Examiners
                     4. Power to Register Voters


Suffrage/Franchise/Enfranchise: The Right to Vote

Electorate:  Number of People Eligible to Vote

          Original Restrictions on Voting:
                     1. Religious Beliefs
                     2. Ownership of Property
                     3. Tax Payment
                     4. Race
                     5. Gender
                     6. Literacy

Five Major Stages of Voter Enfranchisement

Year           Increased Electorate                      Restrictions Removed
1789           Constitution: White
                     Property Owners

1850           All White Adult Males                      Religion -- Property

1870           All Men Over 21                                 Race

1920           All Men/Women                                 Gender
                     Over 21

1971           All Men/Women                                 Age/Literacy/Poll Tax
                     Over 18           

Voting Behavior

Factors                                            Democrats                      Republicans

1. Income                                            Low                                            High
2. Occupation                                 Blue Collar                      White Collar
3. Education                                     Less                                            More
4. Gender                                      --------                                 --------
5. Age                                              Younger                                 Older
6. Religion                                    Cath/Jews                           Protestants
7. Ethnicity                                    Non-White                          White
8. Geography                                 ---------                                 --------

Family/Co-Workers often Vote Alike!

9/10                      Married Couples
2/3                         Family Members Vote Like Parents
3/5+                      Co-Workers

Psychological Factors
Party Identification -- In the Past, many Voters who Identify with a Party often Vote what is called:

Straight Ticket Voting -- Voting based on Party alone

However: Recently more People have Resorted to:

Split-Ticket Voting -- Voting for the Man not the Party

The Number of Independents have also Increased

Non Voters

Some Citizens are Not Allowed To Vote.  These Citizens are Not Counted in the Percentage of the Population that are Eligible to Vote.

They Are:

          1. People in Mental Institution
          2. Mentally Incompetent
          3. Convicted of Serious Crimes
          4. Others: (Determined by Individual States)

                     1. Dishonorable Discharge
                     2. Duelist
                     3. Homeless
                     4. Polygamist


In Ancient Athens, Citizens who did not Vote were Called IDIOTS (Idiotes), because they were Ignorant of Public Affairs.

The Scope of the Non Voting Problem

1. Cannot Vote

          * Forgot to Register
          * Too Ill
          * Out of Town

2. "Don't Need to Vote"

          * Whoever Elected is Fine

3. "Don't Want to Vote"

          *Vote will Not Make a Difference
          *Do Not care about the Election
          *Unwilling to take Part in Government

4. "Don't Know Who to Vote For"

          * See No Difference in Candidates
          * Not Familiar with Issues
          * Cannot Make up Their Minds

5. "I Voted But . . . "

          * Vote for Limited Numbers of People or Issues on Ballot
          * Suffer from Ballot Fatigue

Largest Group of Non-Voters are those Who
Do Not Register!!

Impact of the 26th Amendment

The 26th Amendment was Ratified in July 1971
Allowing All 18 Year Olds the Right to Vote

As a Result: 20 Million New Voters (about 15%)
Were Eligible to Vote

Results:  Only about 2% of the 15% Increase Actually Voted. 
Only 3 Million Increased Over the 68' Election.

                  Eligible           Increase            Actual            Increase              %                      Increase
Year           to Vote           in #s                      Voters           in #s                      Voting           Decrease

1964           117 M           +3 M                      71 M                      +2.5 M           62 %           -1.5 %

1968           120 M           +3 M                      73 M                      +2 M               61%           -1.0 %

1972           140 M           +20 M                      77 M                 +4 M               55 %           -6.0 %

Since 18 Year Olds were Given the Right to Vote,
The Average Percentage of Americans
Not Voting is Down 8%. 
About 78 Million Choose Not to Vote
Compared to 43 Million Before the
Passage of the 26th Amendment.