I. Historical qualifications for suffrage.
A. Religion (eliminated by state legislatures).
B. Property (eliminated by state legislatures).
C. Race (eliminated by 15th Amendment).
D. Sex (eliminated by 19th Amendment)
E. Income (eliminated by 24th Amendment banning the poll tax).
F. Literacy (eliminated by Voting Rights Act of 1965).
G. Minimum age of 21 (eliminated by 26th Amendment now 18).
II. Current qualifications (set by states):
B. Residency. (voter registration)
C. Age. (18)
D. Registration (in all states except ND).
Ill. Voter turnout in U.S. as compared to foreign nations.
A. U.S.: —50% in presidential elections, 30%-40% in midterm congressional
elections. A decline in voter turnout since 1960.
B. Comparable industrialized nations in the West are as high as 90%. This
can be a deceiving picture, however, because:
1. The U.S. does not impose penalties for not voting, as other countries do.
2. Other nations have multi-party systems that allow for more choice, and
perhaps a more meaningful vote.
3. Other nations have automatic/same day registration.
IV. Reasons for low voter turnout.
A. Institutional barriers.
1. Registration- The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“Motor Voter
Bill”) was designed to increase voter turnout:
a. It allows people to register when renewing their license or car.
b. Various public offices also offer registration forms.
c. It requires states to allow registration by mail
2. Long ballot.
3. Type of election:
a. General election turnout is greater than primary election turnout.
b. Presidential election turnout is greater than legislative election turnout.
Presidential elections have the highest turnout.
c. National election turnout is greater than state election turnout.
4. Difficulties in obtaining absentee ballots
5. Too many elections.
6. Young people tend to have the lowest turn
B. Political Reasons
1. Dissatisfaction with candidates, parties, and politics in general.
2. Lack of strong 2-party competition.
3. Weakness of parties in mobilizing voters.
V. Who votes? Who doesn’t? Who cares?
A. Characteristics of those likely to vote:
1. Level of educational achievement: the greatest predictor of voting that
cuts across other factors. Those with high levels of educational achievement,
regardless of race, sex, or income status are more likely to vote than those with
2. Income: those with higher levels are more likely to vote.
3. Age: older voters (except for the very old or infirm) are more likely to
4. Race: whites are more likely to vote than blacks, who are more likely to
vote than Hispanics.
B. Does low turnout matter?
1. If voters accurately represented a cross-section of the U.S., then low
turnout would be relatively unimportant.
2. The problem, however, is that older whites with higher levels of income
and educational achievements are over-represented.
3. The young (18 -24) have historically had a very low voter turnout