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Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Help me get voting privilege!!!

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/3/2018 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 201 times Debate No: 113465
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I need voting privileges... I would also be cool to give me the win for these reasons

Personal Freedoms

The freedom to vote is America"s most important political right outside of the original Bill of Rights, and it is also the most hard-won right. In the early years of our republic, only white landowners could vote. Slowly, the franchise was expanded in the states to incorporate white male laborers, and women gained full or partial suffrage in most states before winning the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1920, which federalized full and equal voting rights for women. In the hardest voting rights struggle, Black Americans, whose right to vote was recognized in the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution, continued to face official and unofficial restrictions and suppression in Southern states and cities until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 established strong federal protections for the freedom to vote by banning or limiting many of the discriminatory election policies and practices of the Jim Crow South.

The Voting Rights Act"combined with subsequent legislation such as the National Voter Registration Act, which requires state agencies to provide opportunities for voter registration"has helped us make significant progress in boosting voting by Black Americans and other historically marginalized groups. At the same time, the overall voting rate fell to historic lows in this period, and, today, some American citizens are still without voting rights while many more face new restrictions or unnecessary challenges in exercising their right to vote. Millions of incarcerated persons, who are disproportionately people of color, cannot vote while serving their time, and millions more face limits on voting even when they are released.1 So too, enfranchised Americans" freedom to vote continues to be restricted by policies and practices that circumvent or violate the spirit of the Voting Rights Act, which was itself severely curtailed in the Supreme Court"s alarming Shelby decision in 2013. In Southern states and elsewhere, eligible voters often face restrictive policies such as strict registration deadlines, photo identification requirements, and racially-motivated redistricting. Many of these same states are also antagonistic toward making it easier to vote, by limiting early voting and other easier-access alternatives to the traditional voting booth. Reflecting an ongoing legacy of institutional racism in our election systems, this new generation of election policies and rules are targeted at certain groups and disproportionately affect people of color, people who are poor, and young people.2

One important consequence of this legacy and continuing evolution of voting restrictions is unequal voter turnout in elections, with white Americans, and particularly affluent white Americans, out-participating people of color, low-income people, and young people by significant-to-wide margins. As a result, large numbers of lesser-advantaged Americans are left out of the democratic process: in 2012, 26 million eligible voters of color did not vote, and, among eligible voters earning less than $50,000, 47 million did not vote. In 2014, 44 million eligible voters of color did not vote, and 66 million eligible voters earning less than $50,000 did not vote.

These voter "turnout gaps" or voting inequalities are well-known among experts who study American democracy, but, in the following explainer, we argue that such voting inequality is underestimated in its social impact and in the larger policy debates about the direction of our country. More specifically, while it is obvious to many why the turnout gaps matter for democracy, it is less obvious why closing the turnout gaps and creating a more fully inclusive democracy matters for the policy decisions and social outcomes that should be the fruit of our democracy.

We aim to help clarify one important reason why this is so by examining how the turnout gaps reflect not only differences in power and privilege but also striking differences in policy views and ideology. At the core of this problem, we see that people in the under-voting groups tend to be more or substantially more in favor of progressive economic policies and government intervention in the economy compared to more affluent voters and particularly more affluent white voters. While money in politics is increasingly a focal point for explaining why the US policy landscape leans so heavily to the right compared to those of other wealthy democracies, the data we look at here suggest that our country"s cumulative voter turnout gaps"historic and contemporary"are also an important factor in the growing misalignment of public policy with the concerns and needs of working-class and low-income people, particularly in communities of color.

Turnout Gaps and Opinion Gaps

Our democracy has far too many missing voices, particularly among those who are already less advantaged due to racial and class barriers in our society. Such voting inequalities depress overall participation in our elections, but if we look at public opinion data that can be broken down between voters and nonvoters, it is clear that the turnout gaps are also very much about the content of our politics.

Simply put, by excluding so many eligible voters, our election systems do a very poor job of giving voice to the full diversity of viewpoints in our electorate, including sharp viewpoint differences in key areas of public policy. Indeed, the viewpoints of lower-voting populations are almost entirely ignored in elections and policymaking, in no small part because they are missing at the polls. Thus, clearly and urgently, we need to close the voting gaps to ensure greater balance in electoral and policy outcomes, so that all Americans, not just affluent white Americans, may enjoy the fruits of democracy.

In the analysis that follows, we examine public opinion differences between voters and nonvoters, which help to illuminate the political and social impact of voter turnout inequalities. Because pollsters do not regularly ask about previous voting behavior, we use voter registration status as a proxy for distinguishing voters and nonvoters, as do many other studies.10 On every issue for which Demos was able to obtain data, non-registered people were more progressive than registered people, meaning (for our purposes here) more supportive of policies that help lower-income Americans and those with less opportunity due to institutional and interpersonal racism. Figures 3 and 4 show net support for progressive priorities, which is the percent of people opposed subtracted from the percentage in support (those who were "not sure" were excluded). A positive number indicates that more people support than oppose the policy, while a negative number indicates that more people oppose than support the policy. Sometimes these gaps were dramatic, and in many cases enough to shift public opinion from a minority to a majority in support.11 For instance, in a YouGov poll, a proposal for government provision of free community college for all had net support of 46 points among non-registered individuals (63 percent in favor, 17 percent opposed ), but only 7 points among registered individuals (43 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed). On net, 37% of non-registered Americans expressed support for a financial transactions tax to pay for a tax cut for the middle class (54 percent in favor and 17 percent opposed), compared to 20 percent of registered Americans (46 percent in favor and 26 percent opposed). These numbers are even more impressive given that non-registered Americans are more likely than registered Americans to say "not sure" on many policies.
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