ERIC Number: ED312212
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988
The Vanishing Voter and the Crisis in American Democracy; New Strategies for Reversing the Decline in Voter Participation.
People for the American Way, Washington, DC.
A critical national problem facing the United States is the steady decline in voting of the citizenry. Surveys of the 44 largest public school systems from across the country and of 100 corporations from the Fortune 500 group as well as individual interviews and roundtable discussions with teachers, executives, members of Congress, local and state election officials, and community organizers provided the material for this study. It would seem that while there is a range of causes for the decline of voting since 1960, the single largest obstacle to participation is the two-step system of voter registration. Unlike all other western democracies, the United States requires citizens to register several weeks before they vote, rather than on election day. Studies show that once citizens are registered, the overwhelming majority vote in presidential elections. But same-day registration would not solve the whole problem. Among the changes in U.S. society in recent decades has been a lessening of the impact of mediating institutions--unions, local political party organizations, and other institutions that have traditionally assisted citizens by helping them to register, providing information about the candidates, and encouraging them to vote on election day. This study examines the potential role of three types of institutions--schools, businesses, and community-based activist groups--and makes recommendations concerning how each might help turn around the voter decline. (JB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Community; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: People for the American Way, Washington, DC.
Note: A phase of the research was performed with focus groups by Peter D. Hart Research Associates.