Voting and elections
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Voting and elections. Step 1. Have to be registered—2 weeks before Increase turnout? Ease registration, voting? Require voting? Holidays?. Partisan versus non-partisan elections. local elections and state judges are often “non-partisan”. State elections-- More “Progressive” legacy.

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Voting and elections

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Voting and elections

Step 1

  • Have to be registered—2 weeks before

  • Increase turnout?

  • Ease registration, voting?

  • Require voting?

  • Holidays?

Partisan versus non-partisan elections

  • local elections and state judges are often “non-partisan”

State elections--More “Progressive” legacy

  • special elections

  • recall

  • Initiatives

  • The voice of the people or special interests?

  • Constraining the role of legislators?

Primaries and General Elections

  • Primary: Choosing the candidates to compete in the General Election

  • General Election: choosing among the candidates to hold office

Presidential primaries (including caucuses)

  • Each state and the parties choose how to elect delegates to the national convention

  • primary or caucus

  • Primaries can be “open” (blanket), “closed” or “semi closed”

The Party Convention

  • in most cases now delegates are “committed”, according to result of state’s primary

  • so outcome of convention is pre-determined--just a pep-rally with a platform

General Election for President: Electoral College

  • Each state gets as many electors as it has members of US House and Senate--minimum of 3 per state

  • Almost every state awards its votes “winner take all”, so again electoral vote need not equal popular vote

  • Abolish or Reform?

Congressional elections

  • Incumbents re-elected over 90%, receive most of the money

  • 435 House districts, reapportioned every 10 years by census, reflecting pop change

  • State legislature determines their own districts, and for their state’s congressional reps

  • Redistricting or “Gerrymandering”

Mystery state A:

60% Rep and 40% Dem

Version A--three safe Rep districts

Version B--two safe Rep, one safe Dem district




Gerrymandering, contd

  • Current trend:

  • Computers exacerbate gerrymandering

  • Types

  • Partisan

  • Racial

  • Incumbent

Incumbency Advantage

  • Why?

  • Self-fulfilling prophecy

  • term limits?

  • at state level, not federal

  • Good and bad

Who votes?

  • The old

  • The educated

  • The wealthy

  • The white

Who Can’t

  • The incarcerated, on probation or parole, or felons--depending on the state

Campaign finance

  • Campaigns increasingly expensive--mostly for TV ads

TV political ads in millions

Attempts to fix the problem

  • Since 70s, contributions are registered, limited, and if by corporations or unions, routed through PACs

  • 1976 USSC throws out mandatory spending limits

  • Present effort to buck Buckley

  • 2002 Campaign finance--McCain Feingold abolishes “soft money” in federal elections, continues contribution limits

  • but campaign spending continues to grow

Election Reform

  • Money--public funding for candidates--”clean elections”--including funds to match opponents private funding

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