American Politics COMPLETE NOTES [Part 10] - I got a 4.0 in the course!

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Political Science
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March 26, 2014 Today’s Questions: ➔ Is voter turnout low, and is this a problem? ➔ How do Americans vote? “The Four P’s of Voting” ◆ IV. Is Voter Turnout Low? ➔ Lower today in the US than it has been in the past ➔ Much lower than other countries with similar systems of government V. Why is Voter Turnout Low? Institutional Factors ➔ ◆ Number of Elections in the US ◆ Registration Laws in the US Decrease levels of turnout ● ◆ Election Day ● On Tuesday, not over the weekend or on a holiday like it often is in other industrialized democracies ◆ Electoral System ● Singular Member Plurality System (US) vs. Proportional Representation System (Other Countries) ● Singular Member Plurality - winner take all system ● Proportional Representation System - people vote for a PARTY rather than an individual ○ Parties garner representation in a legislature based on the percentage of votes received ● Probability ○ Probability that your singular vote will have more of an impact in a Proportional Representation System ◆ Felons ● 1.6 million people living in prison in 2012 - 1 in 100 citizens ● 48 states prohibit inmates from voting ● 33 states prohibit convicted felons or anyone on parole/probation from voting ● 2% of the American population lost right to vote ● Minority Communities ○ 1 in 15 black citizens are felons ○ 1 in 36 Latinos are felons ➔ Political Factors ◆ Decrease in mobilization - those asked to participate are more likely to participate in voting ◆ If people are not going out and asking people to vote for them, fewer people will turn out to vote ➔ Social Factors Civic engagement, expectations, and technology ◆ ◆ Technology places people in solitary interactions rather than between ourselves and other human beings We are not engaging with others, we are alone engaging with our ◆ computers VI. Is Low Voter Turnout a Problem? ➔ “No!” Perspective: ◆ Low voter turnout shows contentment in government ● Good Democracy - Apathy and Complacency ● Bad Democracy - Anger and Action ◆ Elitist Argument ● People who don’t vote are non-white, less educated, less interested, lower on the socioeconomic totem pole ● “Sleepwalkers” - bringing these people who are not informed or interested should not be coming to vote “Radical” Argument ◆ ● Elections are a charade ○ Decisions made on elections are not influential on what actually happens in Washington ○ The people with the power are CEOs, bankers, Military Industrial Complex) ○ Elections are simply rituals that produce manufactured consent of the governed ◆ Pragmatic Argument ● Voters = non-voters ● Individuals are free riding knowing that their interests will be represented by the people who are more engaged in politics ➔ “Yes!” Perspective ◆ Illegitimate and unrepresentative ◆ How can we say we are a true democracy if half of t
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