The Individual in Democratic Government II

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The Individual in Democratic Government II

Voting behavior in the US and Texas. Why people vote, why turnout is declining and who votes.

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Lecture Note
Texas A&M University
Pols 207 - State & Local Goverment

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POLS 207 1st Edition Lecture 13 Outline of Last Lecture I. The Individual in a Democratic Society Outline of Current Lecture II. Voting Behavior A. Texas Voting B. Explanations for Non-Voting C. Why people vote? D. Declining Turnout III. Political Socialization a. Party Identification b. Turnout Current Lecture:  Electoral Support for Governors  Highest was for Bush with 18% and lowest was for Perry in 2006 with 14%.   Percent of Texas Voting Age Population Registered  Hit a peak in 2000 and has been declining since.  For the past 10 years, every election cycle, the numbers have been declining.  Due to the rules of the game – Republicans prefer to repress registration o Because mass turnout normally leads to a Democratic win o If you reduce registration, you can reduce the turnout. o This is why Republicans were against Motor Voter Registration because this would have increased turnout. o Historically, the South have tried to suppress voting – not free and fair elections in that case.  This is why the Supreme Court struck down the law that required ID to vote in Texas and Pennsylvania.  Voter ID laws disadvantage the poor  People who don’t drive won’t have a license etc.  So until the state provides photo ID for citizens then it is unconstitutional to have a Voter ID law.  Explanations of Non-Voting  Alienation o People feel alienated from society and the political process – they don’t see the point of voting. o Policies will not be created for them because they do not vote  No benefit for candidates to bring in these policies either.  Cost-benefit o Rational choice theory for voter turnout  Is it beneficial to vote?  For some and not for others  When the costs are more than the benefits – there is no reason to vote. o For most people the cost of voting is higher than the benefits o Costs include – having to take the time of work, costs that incur in getting to the polling station. Education costs – you need information on the candidate, cost of buying newspapers etc. Also there is a very small chance that your vote will be pivotal, so the outcome will be the same regardless of whether you vote or not. o People vote due to civic duty – this is the error term. Civic duty is acquired through socialization – mainly through schools. You are taught that it is your responsibility as a citizen in a democracy to vote. o Therefore, people who are better educated should vote more.  Satisfaction   Voting in years that do not have a presidential election has the lowest turnout.  Gubernatorial elections has the lowest turnout amongst elections.  Texas has their gubernatorial election during off-years so they can ‘focus on Texas issues rather than national issues.’ However, no one appears to care about this because it is the lowest turnout figure.

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