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Topics on the Page
Voting in the United States
Who Votes
  • Should 16-year-olds be allowed to vote?
What Persuades Voters to Vote
Who Can Run for Office
Women and the Vote
Increasing Voter Turnout and Citizen Participation
Alternatives to Winner Take All Voting Systems
  • Ranked-Choice Voting
  • Preferential Voting Systems

Voting in the United States
Diagram of the two-party system according to Jim Riley and Regis Publishing
Diagram of the two-party system according to Jim Riley and Regis Publishing

In the United States, a citizen must be at least 18 to vote.
  • The citizen must also meet the requirements specific for his or her state.

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See Special Topic Page on Voting Rights and Voter Suppression

Who Votes

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.27.35 AM.pngGlobal Vote: The Good Country
  • This site lets people anywhere in the world register how they would vote in all national elections

National Voter Turnout Rates, 1787-2012 from the United States Elections Project, University of Florida

What Does Voter Turnout Tell Us About the 2016 Election? PBS Newshour, November 20, 2016

An Artificial Intelligence Algorithm Developed by Stanford Researchers Can Determine a Neighborhood's Political Leanings by Its Cars (November 27, 2017)
  • Computers analyzed visual images of 22 million cars in 50 million Google Street View images.
    • In neighborhoods with more sedan from extended-cab pickups, there was 88% chance of voting for a Democrat in 2008 Presidential election
      • In neighborhoods where pick-ups outnumbered sedans, 92% chance the area went Republican.in 2008

Multimedia.pngClick here for a "People on the Street" segment asking citizens if they vote

Turnout of Voting Eligible Population, 1948-2012
  • Voter Turnout in 2014 mid-term elections was 36.4%

The Party of NonVoters: Younger, More Racially Diverse, More Financially Strapped from Pew Research Center (October 2014).


external image Issues_icon.jpgShould 16-year-olds be Allowed to Vote?




Cartoon about William Jennings Bryan's whistle-stop campaign, 1896
Cartoon about William Jennings Bryan's whistle-stop campaign, 1896

What Persuades Voters to Vote


What Persuades Voters? A Field Experiment on Political Campaigning, George Mason University (November 2011)
  • Face-to-face interactions have more impact than tv and radio ads or direct mail flyers that urge people to vote or outline candidate positions on issues
  • A candidate's presence, more than the message he uses, influences voters
  • Candidates sway voters merely by showing up at their door

2016 Campaigns Will Spend $4.4 billion on TV Ads, but Why? NPR (August, 19, 2015)

Who Can Run for Office


Below are the qualifications for office:
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, 2017
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, 2017

To Run for President:
  • At least 35 years old
  • A natural born citizen
  • A resident of the US for a least 14 years


To Run for the Senate:
  • At least 30 years old
  • A citizen of the US for at least 9 years
  • A resident of the state where he or she is elected
To Run for the House of Representatives:
  • Be at least 25 years old
  • A citizen of the US for at least 7 years
  • A resident of the state where he or she is elected
    • Representative Elise Stefanik is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress

Female_Rose.pngWomen and Voting

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Hilary Swank plays Alice Paul in the film

For a historical view on women gaining the right to vote, see the film Iron Jawed Angels

rotating gif.gifFor more on women gaining the right to vote, see United States History II.9

Increasing Voter Turnout and Citizen Participation


Store Window Display Promoting Voting, 1956
Store Window Display Promoting Voting, 1956

  • Early Voting Laws and Voter Registration


32 states and the District of Columbia have some form of early voting; one of three Americans vote before election day (The Valley Advocate, November 7, 2013, p. 9)

House Bill H.3647 is being considered in Massachusetts to enable online voter registration and early voting during business hours beginning 11 days before an election.

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  • More Approaches to Increasing Citizen Participation


What is the National Popular Vote Plan? Facts and FAQs from FairVote

Early Voting: What Works from the Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law

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Senator Bernie Sanders

Democracy Day to establish a national election day holiday as proposed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

The Swedish Way to Boost Voter Turnout from Time

Simple Ways to Increase Voter Turnout from Pacific Standard (March 2008)

Just Say Run: How to Overcome Cynicism and Inspire Young People to Run for Office, Brookings (July 2015)


Alternatives to Winner Take All Voting Systems


Kenneth Arrow, 2008
Kenneth Arrow, 2008

Noble Prize-winning economist Kenneth Arrow's Impossibility Theorem demonstrated that no voting system can produce all the criteria for fair results.

The Impossibility Theorem is also called Arrow's Paradox; it was the basis of his doctoral dissertation and his 1951 book, Social Choice and Individual Values.

external image 200px-Podcast-icon.svg.pngFor more, go to this podcast interview with Kenneth Arrow




Fair Voting in the United States outlines the history of proportional representation in American elections

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Ranked-Choice Voting
  • Maine Adopts Ranked-Choice Voting.What Is It and How Will It Work, New York Times (December 3, 2016)

Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Run-Off Voting from FairVote


4 Preferential Voting Methods and 1 NonPreferential Voting Method (summarized by Dr. Larry Bowen, University of Alabama)


Preferential Voting Systems

Plurality Method
The candidate with the most first place votes wins (that candidate does not need a majority of votes).

Method of Plurality with Elimination
This method uses successive rounds to eliminate a candidate with the fewest first place votes.


Borda Count Method.
This is a form of preference voting where a candidate receives one point for last place, two points for next to last, and so on up to the total number of candidates in an election.

external image Beautiful_red_apple.jpgBorda Count Method from PBS Mathline offers lesson plan examples of this system in action.

Method of Pairwise Comparisons
Each candidate is matched one-on-one with each of the other candidates and receives one point for a win and 1/2 a point for a tie; the candidate with the most points wins.

Nonpreferential System (Approval Voting)
Voters can vote for as many candidates as they wish in an election. Each candidate approved of receives one vote and the candidate with the most votes wins.

Range Voting or Score Voting
  • Used in the scoring system in the Olympics





Sources:
Infoplease. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0878573.html