Under the original constitution,
  who had the right to vote?

– for U.S. House?
– for U.S. Senate?
– for President (Presidential electors)?
– for state and local officials?
 In early years of U.S. elections:
• Voter qualifications (including for U.S. House and
  Presidential electors) set entirely by state law
   – Proviso: The House of Representatives shall be composed of
     members chosen every second year by the people of the several
     states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifica-
     tions requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the
     state legislature. [Article 1, Section 2]
• Property-owning/tax-paying qualifications common
   – Often scaled to level of office
• Perhaps 50% of adult white males eligible to vote in first
• Plus some free blacks (and even some women) eligible
  to vote in some elections
“Jacksonian Revolution” (1830s)
• Almost all adult white males have the right to
• Almost all Presidential electors are popularly
  elected (except S.C)
• Voter mobilization campaigns by competing
  (Democratic and Whig) political parties
• Non-whites (and women) mostly lose the right to
  vote (in so far as they previously had that right)
                 14th Amendment
• Section 1. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall
  abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;
  ...; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection
  of the laws.
• Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several
  states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole
  number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But
  when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for
  President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives
  in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the
  members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male
  inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and
  citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for
  participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation
  therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such
  male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens
  twenty-one years of age in such state.
              15th Amendment

• Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to
  vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States
  or by any state on account of race, color, or previous
  condition of servitude.
• Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce
  this article by appropriate legislation.
             Late 19th Century
• “Jim Crow” regime in the South
  – de jure segregation
  – de facto disenfranchisement (poll tax, literacy test,
    grandfather clause,white primary, intimidation)
• Blacks remain enfranchised outside the South
  (but few live outside the South)
• Women (re)gain the right to vote in many states
  (especially in the West)
  – 19th Amendment (1920)
  – The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall
    not be denied or abridged by the United States or by
    any state on account of sex.
                       20th Century
• 23rd Amendment (1963)
   – The District constituting the seat of government of the United States
     shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct a number of
     electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of
     Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would
     be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least
     populous state; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the
     states, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of
     President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a state; and
     they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by
     the twelfth article of amendment.

• 24th Amendment (1964)
   – The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other
     election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or
     Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not
     be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of
     failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
         20th Century (cont.)
• Voting Rights Act (VRA) (1965)
• 26th Amendment (1971)
  – The right of citizens of the United States, who
    are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not
    be denied or abridged by the United States or
    any state on account of age.
                 Continuing Issues
• Failed 27th Amendment

   – Section 1. For purposes of representation in the Congress, election of
     the President and Vice President, and article V of this Constitution, the
     District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall be
     treated as though it were a State.

   –      Section 2. The exercise of the rights and powers conferred under this
       article shall be by the people of the District constituting the seat of
       government, and as shall be provided by the Congress.

   –      Section 3. The twenty-third article of amendment to the Constitution
       of the United States is hereby repealed.

   –      Section 4. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been
       ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-
       fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its
     Continuing Issues (cont.)
• Felon disenfranchisement
  – varied state laws

• Enfranchisement of (some) legal
                   Voter Registration
•   Prior to latter 19th century, no (or informal) voter registration
     – probably a lot of fraudulent voting
     – “vote early and vote often”

•   States adopt voter registration laws in late 19th century
     – evident decline in total turnout
     – may also have had the effect of “vote suppression”
     – purging of voter registration lists

•   Latter part of 20th century, general liberalization of registration laws (by
    states, by courts, and by Congress)
     – “Motor Voter” Act (1993)
     – Help America Vote Act (2002) [provisional ballots]

•   Voter registration remains something of a mess in some states and
     – “deadwood” problem
               Voting Turnout
• “Total actual vote”/ “Total potential vote”
• In the U.S. voting turnout is usually calculated as
   – total recorded vote for President, divided by
   – the census estimate of the voting age population
• However, such turnout is often (mistakenly)
  characterized as the percent of eligible voters
  who actually voted.
• Poll workers who report “high” turnout on
  election night are looking at number of voters
  who showed up as a percent of registered voters
  on their lists.
      Problems with PV/VAP
• Numerator misses
  – spoiled ballots
  – Presidential abstentions
• Denominator includes
  – (legal and illegal) immigrants
  – felons
  – but excludes eligible voters overseas
      Some Reasons for Turnout
• Some countries have compulsory voting
• Most countries have (national) voter enrollment
  (vs. state voter registration) systems
• U.S has unusually frequent elections with many
  offices/propositions at stake in each (“long-
  – federal/state/local offices
  – separate executive and legislative (and sometimes
    judicial) elections, primaries (sometimes with runoffs)
  – referendums
  – plus primaries (and sometimes runoffs)
OEDC COUNTRIES (1960-2000)

To top