Download America's Uneven Democracy: Race, Turnout, and by Zoltan L. Hajnal PDF

By Zoltan L. Hajnal

Even supposing there's a common trust that asymmetric voter turnout ends up in biased results in American democracy, latest empirical assessments have came across few results. by way of delivering a scientific account of the way and the place turnout issues in neighborhood politics, this ebook demanding situations a lot of what we all know approximately turnout in the US at the present time. It demonstrates that low and asymmetric turnout, an element at play in such a lot American towns, ends up in sub-optimal results for racial and ethnic minorities. Low turnout leads to losses in mayoral elections, much less equitable racial and ethnic illustration on urban councils, and skewed spending guidelines. the significance of turnout confirms lengthy held suspicions in regards to the under-representation of minorities and increases normative issues approximately neighborhood democracy. thankfully, this booklet bargains an answer. research of neighborhood participation exhibits small swap to neighborhood election timing - a reform that's cost-effective and comparatively effortless to enact- may dramatically extend neighborhood voter turnout.

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Additional info for America's Uneven Democracy: Race, Turnout, and Representation in City Politics

Sample text

Only if nonvoters favor different choices can their entry into an electoral contest affect the outcome. Whether these kinds of divisions are greater at the local level than other levels is unclear. Third, and finally, the groups who vote less regularly must be large enough to have a say if they did vote. I suggested that this is also a condition that is more likely at the local level given the uneven geographic distribution of the population. In the cities where minorities actually live, they should make up a substantial portion of the electorate and should be large enough to at least theoretically help determine the outcome of the election.

Across that state, 48 percent of registered voters turned out in council elections. The figure for mayoral elections was 44 percent. 8 percent across the 477 districts (Weimer 2001). 36 America’s Uneven Democracy Local voter turnout also appears to be declining. The best data we have indicate that participation in local contests has declined precipitously since the 1930s. In 1936, turnout of registered voters in local contests averaged 62 percent. That figure dropped to 52 percent in 1962, 45 percent in 1975, and as already noted, 39 percent in 1986 – the last year for which we have nationally representative data (Karnig and Walter 1983, 1993).

More important, when and if these nonvoters are politically mobilized, they may develop class or racial consciousness that pushes them in a clear political direction. The difference between the choices of voters and the true preferences of nonvoters may thus be much greater than it appears from survey evidence. The problem with this critique is that when habitual “nonvoters” are mobilized and do on rare occasion go to the polls, their votes are much more likely to reinforce existing electoral outcomes than to overturn them.

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