Chapter 3 Government

Chapter 3 Government



5:26 PM

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❖ Political Participation ❖ Voter Turnout in Texas ❖ Explaining Voter Turnout Legal Restrictions Today The Legacy of Restricted Ballot Access in Texas Social and Economic Factors

Felony Conviction and Voting Party Competition Regional Variations Other Factors Affecting Voter Turnout ❖ Conclusions ❖ Internet Resources ❖ Notes

ristotle, an early Greek philosopher, said that we are political animals. By this Aristotle meant that we are, by our very nature, predisposed to participate in politics. Some would say that Aristotle was an optimist. Most U.S. citizens do not choose to participate in state politics. Before discussing the reasons for this, let us review what opportunities are available for participation.


The term political participation refers to taking part in activities that are related to governance. Table 3.1 lists some of these activities and the percentages of people who participate in them. As can be seen from the table, most people do not take an active part in politics, even in national elections. Voting at the national level is lower than in most other industrialized nations. Participation in state politics is lower than at the national level and still lower at the local levels. Texas ranks below all but a few states in voter participation in both national and state elections. (See table 3.2.) Besides thinking about participation as involvement in specific activities, one can also think about participation in terms of levels and kinds of activities. Sidney Verba and Norman H. Nie, in their book Participation in America,1 divide the population into several groups based upon the level and kind of political activities they participate in (see figure 3.1): Inactives, who take no part in politics Voting specialists, who confine their efforts to voting in elections Parochial participants, who become active in...

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