Event Title

Myth vs. Reality: Uncovering the Causes of African American Voter Turnout in the United States

Presenter Information

Monique Newton, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center A155

Start Date

10-28-2016 3:30 PM

End Date

10-28-2016 4:50 PM

Abstract

There is a general consensus within contemporary political debates that overall voter turnout has been declining since the 1970’s. When voter turnout is further separated by race, the voting difference between whites and African Americans is hard to ignore. Numerous scholars have analyzed this disparity within turnout and formed their own theories. Dominant scholarly theory attributes the difference in turnout to the low socioeconomic status of non voters compared to voters. Nonvoters tend to be less educated and exhibit lower income levels compared to those who vote. African Americans account for a large portion of low socioeconomic Americans in the United States, thus providing a possible explanation for their voting behavior. Other theories focus on strict voter registration laws or the political psychology of African Americans themselves. This research calls into question the relationship between African Americans and the electoral process. Conducting qualitative analysis into the factors influencing African American voter turnout including structural, cultural, economic, and behavioral theories as well as quantitative analysis of African American voter turnout statistics in elections since 1964, this research argues that the dominant theory scholars use to explain voter turnout is not applicable to black communities. It proceeds to offer potential theories that better describe black voter turnout.

Notes

Session II, Panel 5 - Blackness & Bias

Major

Politics; Law and Society

Award

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)

Project Mentor(s)

Charles Peterson, Africana Studies

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Oct 28th, 3:30 PM Oct 28th, 4:50 PM

Myth vs. Reality: Uncovering the Causes of African American Voter Turnout in the United States

Science Center A155

There is a general consensus within contemporary political debates that overall voter turnout has been declining since the 1970’s. When voter turnout is further separated by race, the voting difference between whites and African Americans is hard to ignore. Numerous scholars have analyzed this disparity within turnout and formed their own theories. Dominant scholarly theory attributes the difference in turnout to the low socioeconomic status of non voters compared to voters. Nonvoters tend to be less educated and exhibit lower income levels compared to those who vote. African Americans account for a large portion of low socioeconomic Americans in the United States, thus providing a possible explanation for their voting behavior. Other theories focus on strict voter registration laws or the political psychology of African Americans themselves. This research calls into question the relationship between African Americans and the electoral process. Conducting qualitative analysis into the factors influencing African American voter turnout including structural, cultural, economic, and behavioral theories as well as quantitative analysis of African American voter turnout statistics in elections since 1964, this research argues that the dominant theory scholars use to explain voter turnout is not applicable to black communities. It proceeds to offer potential theories that better describe black voter turnout.