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Chapter 23: Voting and Elections
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  1. Chapter 23: Voting and Elections Social Science

  2. Basics of Voting • After candidates have been chosen from primary elections, the public participates in a general election, or an election in which voters make final decisions about the candidates and issues • Half a million offices are filled with a general election • Proposals for laws, amendments, and new taxes are also voted on • To vote, you must be 18 years or older and a citizen of the United States • In order to vote, you must go through voter registration, or the process of signing up to be a voter • Can be done when you first go to vote or at a voter registration office • Voting for federal elections is always the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and voting for state and local offices can take place at any time

  3. How to Vote • Voters vote at a polling place that is assigned to them based on where they live, called a voting district • Upon entering, you check in with an election official • When voting, depending on what they have at the polling place, you can either pull a lever on a machine, mark an X on a paper ballot, punch a hole in a card, or make your choice on a touchpad • If you can’t make it to the polling place, you can have an absentee ballot sent to you

  4. Becoming an Informed Voter • In order to vote, you should know who you are voting for, what their qualifications are, and what their proposals will be • Can get that information from the paper, from televised speeches and debates, and from your local political party headquarters • You should also learn about ballot measures and the proposals for laws and amendments they will have on the ballots • Even though some people do not vote because they feel their vote doesn’t count, sometimes elections come down to the very last vote, and the vote still counts because you’re taking a position on an issue

  5. Messages from Candidates • Candidates use many methods in order to gain supporters: • Posters, Bumper Stickers, Leaflets, and Flyers • Personal Appearances in cities and town meetings • Direct mail-a way of sending messages to large groups of people through the mail • Internet through websites and news articles • Advertisements through forms of media, or television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet • Can promote positions or take jabs at an opponent • Interest groups get involved in helping candidates gain supporters by contributing to media ads, endorsing candidates and pass and defeat ballot measures • Large interest groups have political action committees, but are limited by federal law in order to keep them from gaining too much power in elections

  6. Propaganda • Candidates and interest groups use propaganda, or a message that is meant to influence people’s ideas, opinions, or actions in a certain way, in order to influence the way you think • Can involve lying, telling one side of the story, or appeal to people’s feelings • Six main strategies of propaganda are used: • Glittering Generalities: using words and phrases that sound appealing and that everyone agrees on • Card Stacking: use only those facts that support your argument • Plain Folks: telling voters that you are just like them • Name Calling: attach negative labels to your opponent • Bandwagon: appeal to desire to follow the crowd • Transfer: connecting yourself to a respected person, group, or symbol

  7. The News • The news presents its own information about candidates and elections through editorials and news reports • News reports try not to show bias, or a favoring of one point of view, but they may present the news in a way that favors one position • May either present information about one candidate more than another or may show negative news on one candidate • New reports can also show the results of opinion polls • Shows what candidate voter favor, why they like the candidate, and what issues are most important to them • Are taken using a sample of people that represent the population • The use of television is the most used form of media for candidates

  8. Planning and Running a Campaign • A great deal of thought, planning, and hard work go into a campaign, with staff members and volunteers spending countless hours helping • The most important person in a campaign is a campaign manager, who helps plan the broad outlines of the campaign: where to go, what issues to discuss, and what image of the candidates to put forth • The poll taker in the campaign finds out which issues the voters think are important • The campaign press secretary makes certain that the media show the candidate in the best light by telling reporters about public appearances

  9. Financing a Campaign • Candidates get money for their campaign from political party members, the parties themselves, and the political action committees • In order to keep track of how much people are giving candidates, Congress set up the Federal Election Commission • Individuals can give up to $2,000 or $3 of their taxes, and the PAC can give up to $5,000 to candidates • Some people complain that elections cost too much money, that the wealthy can afford to run, and good people can’t afford to run

  10. Winning an Election • In many elections, there are two people involved: • Incumbent-someone who already holds the office for which they are running • Challenger-someone who is trying to take the office away from the incumbent • Incumbents win more times than they lose • People elect electors, or people who promise to cast votes for a candidate selected by the voters, to the Electoral College, which has the same number of electors as it has members in Congress • If the candidates’ team of electors wins in a state, the electors cast their votes for the candidates • Candidate for President needs 270 or more votes to win