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US Government Name Should Americans Be Required to Vote

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Should Americans Be Required to Vote? DBQ Essay | 6 Document A Source: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International Idea), March 2009 Note: Below is information from 12 of the approximately 40 countries that have a form of compulsory voting. Nearly 160 countries do not have compulsory voting. Document Analysis



Hook Exercise Homework in Study Hall
Directions Imagine that everyone in your school has a compulsory required study hall every day The principal says the
purpose of school is to learn and students learn better and get better grades when they do their homework in study hall
Everyone knows the principal has a point but a lot of kids just prefer to read or text or talk with friends The trouble is a lot
of these kids are the same kids who really need to study
The principal has asked you to help choose the rule for next semester s study hall Here are four options
Rule 1 Students can decide for themselves whether to do their homework in study hall
Rule 2 Students don t have to do homework in study hall if they have at least a B average
Rule 3 Students who do their homework in study hall or complete it will get a vending machine credit in the
Rule 4 Students who do not do their homework in study hall will get detention
Task With a partner list at least one pro and one con for each rule option Then select and star that rule which you
think is best Be prepared to defend your position
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 2
Background Essay Should Americans Be Required to Vote
The right to vote is a big deal Whenever a govern
ment collapses or is overthrown one of the first things
people demand is the right to vote for their leaders
During the revolutions of the Arab Spring in 2011
people in Egypt and Tunisia and Libya all demanded
free and fair elections Voting is considered so im
portant that most people equate it with democracy
Elections in new democracies are very important and
voter turnout is usually high and enthusiastic In 1994
when South Africa became a full democracy people
stood in line for more than eight hours in order to
vote In Iraq after the over throw of Saddam Hussein
people proudly displayed their purple index fin
gers proof that they had voted in the election
The United States of America is also a democracy but many Americans do not vote Since World War II
no presidential election has ever involved 65 or more of registered voters Turnouts for state and local
elections are even lower How does American democracy make decisions without an electorate to make
them And does the number of voters really make a difference
WHY VOTING MATTERS Voting is important for democracies in several key ways A democracy func
tions with the consent of the governed In other words the people either directly or through their rep
resentatives decide who will lead the country and what the country will do
People express their consent or disapproval in many different ways They can write letters or make visits
to elected officials They can demonstrate in favor of causes they support or protest against things they
don t like They can take direct action to bring attention to problems They can gather to learn and work
together to persuade other people or to make improvements in their communities The most obvious way
of expressing consent however is by voting in elections
Voting also shows that a government has the support of the people In dictatorships governments also
have elections but often the ballot only features one candidate Such elections demonstrate the power of
the dictator to control the voting not the power of voters to control their leaders
INCREASING VOTER TURNOUT Despite the importance of democracy in America voter turnout is still
low particularly with certain populations This has led some people to worry about the legitimacy of our
government They have proposed many different ways to increase voter turnout
One proposal suggests making the voting process more convenient by permitting mail in ballots
same day voter registration and early voting Another idea is that the United States should make voting
easier by turning Election Day into a national holiday so everyone has time to vote
Some other democracies such as Australia and Peru deal with the problem of low voter turnout by re
quiring their citizens to vote To have an effective compulsory voting system a country usually needs
three things a national voter registration database to keep information current rewards to encourage
voters and punishments to discourage non voting
Your task is to examine the following evidence and decide whether the United States should make every
one do their democratic homework and require them to vote or whether our current electoral system
should be left alone In other words Should Americans be required to vote
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 3
Background Essay Questions
1 What are three reasons why voting is important to democracy
2 What are three ways that voter turnout might be increased
3 What is compulsory voting
4 Define these terms
electorate
consent of the governed
legitimacy
registration
compulsory
1790 Only white male adult property owners are allowed to vote
1810 Last religious voting restriction is removed
1850 By this date almost all white males can vote
1870 15th Amendment gives former slaves males only the right to vote
1889 Florida introduces poll tax Other southern states follow
1920 19th Amendment grants women s suffrage
1964 24th Amendment bans poll tax
1971 26th Amendment grants 18 year olds the right to vote
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 4
Document A
Source International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance International Idea March 2009
Note Below is information from 12 of the approximately 40 countries that have a form of compulsory voting Nearly 160
countries do not have compulsory voting
Document Analysis
1 What country has had compulsory voting the longest
2 What are some of the possible consequences to someone who doesn t vote in Peru
3 How can this document be used to argue for requiring people to vote
4 How can this document be used to argue against requiring people to vote
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 6
Document B
Source Unites States Elections Project
George Mason University May 17 2010
Document Analysis
1 In 2004 what was the difference in voter turnout percentage between people who had some college or a bachelor s
degree and people who did not have a high school diploma
2 What can you conclude about the relationship between how much education a person has and the likelihood that person
3 In 2004 what was the difference in voter turnout percentage between people ages 18 29 and people ages 60 and over
4 What can you conclude about the relationship between a person s age and the likelihood that person will vote
5 How can you use this chart to argue for compulsory voting
6 How can you use this chart to argue against compulsory voting
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 7
Document C
Source John W Dean Is It Time To Consider Mandatory Voting Laws Worsening Voting Statistics Make A Strong Case
FindLaw s Writ February 28 2003
Note John W Dean was legal counsel to President Richard M Nixon
While compulsion of any kind is a restriction so is the compulsion to drive only on the right side of the
road Requiring citizens to vote is no more restrictive than requiring them to register for the draft And it
is far less restrictive than requiring us for example to attend school to serve on juries possibly for
weeks or months at a time to pay taxes or to serve in the military when drafted In sum voting is the
least a citizen can do for his or her country and it is not unreasonable to ask US citizens to do this mini
mal thing This country should take first place in the world in voter participation not compete with Zam
bia and others for last place
Document Analysis
1 What office did John W Dean hold
2 To what does John Dean compare compulsory voting Compulsory voting is like
3 Does the author place greater value on civic duty what a citizen must do or liberty
4 How can this document be used to support compulsory voting
5 How can this document be used to argue against compulsory voting
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 8
Document D
Source Filip Palda Vote Or Else Fraser Forum February 2001
Note Filip Palda is a Canadian economist and university professor
Italy has mandatory voting and punishes non voters by sometimes posting their names outside city hall
and stamping DID NOT VOTE FOR FIVE YEARS on identification papers Italy ranks low among
western countries in political satisfaction and voters have unfavorable attitudes towards their electoral
system Switzerland and the US meanwhile have the lowest voter turnout rates of all western democra
cies but among the highest voter satisfaction rates with their political institutions Those who obsess
about voter turnout are perhaps the ones to whom we should pay the least attention The less legitimate
politicians feel the more they try to pass laws that build around their regimes a Potemkin fa ade of citi
zen involvement Government cannot paste a happy face on a political system and hope that people are
smiling inside
A show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition
Document Analysis
1 What does Potemkin facade mean
2 How does the author compare compulsory voting to a Potemkin facade
3 Why does the author say he s opposed to compulsory voting
4 In this example does the author place greater value on civic duty those things a citizen must do or on freedom
5 How can this document be used to argue for compulsory voting
6 How can this document be used to argue against compulsory voting
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 9
Document E
Source Jimmy Carter Peru Trip Report April 5 2001
Note After US President Jimmy Carter left office in 1981 he began to travel to different countries and monitor elections for
fairness Peru had recently experienced a dishonest election which left its citizens mistrustful of their government
All poll officials the people running the voting places were new because anyone having been involved
in last year s fraudulent dishonest process was excluded Although well trained they were inexperi
enced and the complicated procedures and meticulous attention to every detail caused most citizens to
wait about an hour before casting their first votes During the day however they overcame this initial
problem and nationwide voting was completed almost perfectly and on time
Voting is mandatory in Peru with an enforced penalty of US 35 for not voting This is probably the cause
of 13 percent of the ballots being blank or null cast by citizens who refused to vote for any of the candi
dates or who spoiled their ballots We could see no possibility of any error in the casting and counting of
ballots and for the first time in our experience as monitors there was not a single complaint about the
accuracy of the voter s list A national record of about 15 million voters is maintained constantly cor
rected for new registrants those who move overseas or to a different home in Peru or die It was inter
esting to note from early reports that only two votes in every 10 000 were disputed or challenged in any
way in the presidential contest
Document Analysis
1 What evidence can you identify that shows that voting was compulsory in Peru
2 What are some components of the compulsory voting system in Peru
3 Based on what President Carter reports does the election seem fair Explain
4 How can you use this document to argue for compulsory voting
5 How can you use this document to argue against compulsory voting
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 10
Document F
Source An Australian sup
porter of compulsory voting
circa 1924 Cited in Aaron
Lijphart Unequal Participa
tion Democracy s Unre
solved Dilemma American
Political Science Review Vol
91 No 1 March 1997
By compelling people to
vote we are likely to arouse
in them an intelligent inter
est and to give them a po
litical knowledge that they
do not at present possess
Source Joe Heller School
Repairs Green Bay Gazette
March 26 2010
Document Analysis
1 In the quote why does the author support compulsory voting
2 What is the connection between the year of the quote and Document A Why is that year significant
3 In the cartoon what does the father of the student learn when he comes to vote
4 What is the cartoonist saying about the importance of voting
5 How could you use this document to argue that the cartoonist supports compulsory voting
6 How could you use this document to argue that the cartoonist opposes compulsory voting
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 11
Document G
Source Randy Cohen Must You Vote New York Times November 3 2009
Responding to our country s typically low turnouts some groups strive to get people to vote not for an
yone in particular but as an expression of civic virtue vote for the candidate of your choice but vote It
is reasonable to urge your neighbors to be informed about issues that affect your community But it is ir
responsible to encourage the unaware to put their ignorance into action so aimlessly Just vote doesn t
express civic virtue it s sentimentality You might as well urge the unpracticed to use power tools or Rol
lerblade Simultaneously At least they d injure only themselves
Document Analysis
1 From what newspaper does this column come
2 What does simultaneously mean
3 What do you think the author of the quote means when he compares encouraging the ignorant to vote with encouraging
the inexperienced to rollerblade and use power tools at the same time
4 How could you use this quote to argue for compulsory voting
5 How could you use this quote to argue against compulsory voting
Should Americans Be Required to Vote DBQ Essay 12


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