On One Hand

July 30, 2008

Voter Registration Poll

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:04 pm
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Before we get started, some facts about this election:

On July 27, a Gallup poll found that Barack Obama was ahead by three points among all registered voters, but John McCain was ahead by 4 points among those who Gallup considered most likely to vote.

Barack Obama is winning by a small margin in most polls of registered and likely voters, but wins by margins of 10 percent or more in polls that include all adults, registered or not.

Those most likely to skip voting on election day are young adults, African-Americans and other minority groups, and low-income voters.

Now, on to the poll:

OK, so here are the facts from the “Myths” section:

Jury duty pools don’t come from lists of registered voters in most states – it’s usually from lists of citizens with a driver’s liscense.

States have different laws about registering to vote as a felon; in Colorado, for example, you can vote if you have completed your sentence, even if you are still on probation (but not if you are on parole). Voters are often led to beleive that those with a criminal record can’t vote at all in order to suppress turnout among minority voters.

Low turnout almost always helps Republicans, high turnout almost always helps Democrats.

You can vote with several forms of ID, including, in some states, a utility bill to your current address with your name on it. In no state is a driver’s liscense specifically required if you have some other form of state ID.

The Supreme Court decided that college students can opt to vote in the state where they go to school – state initiatives there concerning tuition or education directly effect them. It’s perfectly acceptable to see which state is closer in a presidential election and vote there, or to vote in a state with downticket elections or ballot initiatives you consider more important.

Campaigns spend tremendous effort boosting voter turnout because it can make all the difference in a presidential campaign. For example, President Bush was less popular in 2004 than he was in 2000, but won by a greater margin because Evangelicals voted in higher numbers in 2004. Think about the fact that less than two thirds of all adults vote in presidential elections, and turnout rates are even lower among young voters and Black or Hispanic voters. If Democrats can get one tenth of their unlikely voters to turn out, it’s worth 3-4 points in the polls, which means it’s just as valuable as changing that many likely voters’ minds.

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