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

By Zoltan L. Hajnal

Even if there's a common trust that asymmetric voter turnout results in biased results in American democracy, present empirical checks have came across few results. through supplying a scientific account of ways and the place turnout issues in neighborhood politics, this e-book demanding situations a lot of what we all know approximately turnout in the US this day. It demonstrates that low and asymmetric turnout, an element at play in such a lot American towns, results 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 regulations. the significance of turnout confirms lengthy held suspicions concerning the under-representation of minorities and increases normative matters approximately neighborhood democracy. thankfully, this publication bargains an answer. research of neighborhood participation shows small swap to neighborhood election timing - a reform that's comparatively cheap and comparatively effortless to enact- may possibly dramatically extend neighborhood voter turnout.

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

Sample text

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). A survey of a smaller sample of cities suggests that turnout dropped even further in the 1990s – and averaged only 34 percent in the latter half of the decade (Wood 2002). The vote may be the primary means through which citizens communicate information about their interests and needs but at the local level, that voice is exceptionally weak and getting weaker.

16 America’s Uneven Democracy Chapter 2 examines in greater detail three conditions of the local political environment that could lead to important turnout effects in local elections. It reveals the severe demographic skew that characterizes the local voting population. Those who vote and those who do not vote do not look alike. Second, it illustrates the substantial racial divides that shape local voting preferences. Groups that vote regularly choose different policies and candidates from those who vote irregularly.

Segregation by race and other demographic characteristics means that groups that make up a tiny fraction of the national population and thus have a tiny impact on national contests can make up a substantial share of the population within smaller geographic boundaries and thus can be major players within cities, districts, or states. Only a few very large groups can have a substantial impact on the national vote. 5 million – a large number but still a tiny percentage of the national population – 2 percent.

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