Copyright
United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Post.

Voter registration. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on S. 352 and S. 472. Feb. 7, 8, and March 16, 1973 online

. (page 11 of 28)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on PostVoter registration. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on S. 352 and S. 472. Feb. 7, 8, and March 16, 1973 → online text (page 11 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


other democratic countries, this voting rate of American cit-
izens is embarrassingly low. For example, the rate at which
voters in Italy have participated in elections in the last 10
years has regularly approached 90%. Canada records a voting
rate of approximately 75% to 80%, and in the last 25 years.
West German citizens have voted at rates which range between
78% and 87%.

It is the contention of this report that millions of
American citizens fail to vote not because they are disinter-
ested but because they are disenfranchised by the present
election system. Ironically moreover, many of them lose
their right to vote not because they are poor, black, unedu-
cated or uninterested, but because they are part of the main-
stream of American society. Moving to a better neighborhood,
accepting a company transfer, going to college, getting mar-
ried, serving their country and exercising other rights, free-
doms and obligations to their country too often has had the
effect of denying citizens their right to vote.

Undoubtedly, the present election system will contin-
ue to disenfranchise millions of Americans of every economic
and social background unless improvements are made at both
the administrative and legislative levels.



102



THE POWER OF THE LOCAL OFFICIAL UNDER CURRENT ELECTION LAWS

To what extent can electoral reform occur within the
context of existing law? To what degree do current state
election laws affect the administrative behavior of election
officials?

In a few areas of registration and voting, the law is
specific. Residency requirements and closing dates for regis-
tration are examples. Although the capacity of administra-
tors and local officials to act independently is considerably
limited in these instances, they caji determine the impact of
these laws by the vigor with which they make these require-
ments known and encourage citizens to meet them.

Most of the laws concerning registration and voting,
however, are not specific. In many cases, the law only estab-
lishes broad minimum requirements, thereby leaving a great
deal of discretion to local officials. For instance, the law
may require that a central registration office be located in
each city of the state but not specify how clearly that of-
fice shall be identified. In fact, 52% of approximately 300
registration places observed in this study were not clearly
identified. Again, the law may state that registration lists
must be available to the public but it often does not stipu-
late the mechanisms for making the lists available. For in-
stance, there was a financial charge for the registration list
in 55% of the communities and authorization for access to the
list was required in 38% of the cases.

Local officials may be even more powerful where the
law is merely permissive. State statutes frequently allow,
but do not require, the following: precinct registration,
Saturday and/or evening registration hours, and the authori-
zation of deputy registrars. Data from the community study
show that in these areas local officials frequently do not
use these statutory powers to reach citizens.

In 29% of the communities where deputy registrars
were allowed, election officials failed to use this method to
reach citizens. While only 10 states^ expressly forbid even-
ing and Saturday registration, 77% of the communities studied
had no Saturday registration and 75% had rm evening registra-



Includes North Dakota with no statewide registration and
New Hampshire and Vermont where a checklist system is used.



103



tion in non-election months.^ Even during the heat of an
election period, i.e. the 30 days prior to the closing of reg-
istration, 38% of the communities provided no additional hours
for registration. The data clearly suggest, then, that local
officials have in many cases failed to use the tools allowed
but not mandated by law to make registration and voting easier
and more accessible for all citizens.

In addition to their influence in areas where the law
is stated in broad or permissive terms local officials are
able to influence the electoral process in matters where the
law is silent. Although the law may neither require, suggest
nor forbid it, an election official might provide information
to citizens concerning the election, might conduct extensive
training programs for all poll workers, and might provide bi-
lingual clerks where needed. While such initiative would re-
move many obstacles to voting, local officials have seldom
acted in these areas: only IIX of the local officials includ-
ed in this study published a voter information guide; 28% pro-
vided no training for poll workers; and in approximately 30%
of the registration places where bilingual assistance was need-
ed, local officials failed to provide this service. Election
officials clearly have the power to make registration and vot-
ing procedures easier for citizens but this study has found
that, by and large, they don't use it.

To a large extent, local officials retain their dis-
cretionary powers by default. The community study found that
the state authority charged with responsibility for adminis-
tering the state election code most often counted it as one
of several other major functions of his or her office. In
most states, reports from local officials to the state author-
ity are generally required just after elections and contain
little else than the total number of people registered and
voting in a given jurisdiction and the results of the latest
election. Though many states issue guidelines to local elec-
tion officials, few state administrative mechanisms have been
set up to monitor or enforce compliance with the guidelines.
In short, state election administrators have little knowledge
or control and exert practically no leadership over local
election officials and the manner in which they administer
the state election code. It is little wonder then that the
local election official can, and often does, become the chief
policy-maker for all local, state and national elections held
within his jurisdiction.



For the purposes of this study "evening hours" pertain to
the hours after 5:00 p.m.



8



104



_l o

<:

O Z

►—I ►— 4

(— CO
M O
Q _l
Q O

<:

o
>- (—

UJ o

tVl I— I

>-> ex:
CO a.



o (—



1— o


<c


5:


_l


1


rs


1


Q-




O




a.


:jz




\—


o


■z.


1— o




s£:


cu




z


z


HH


o


Q


►— 1


Qi


1—


O o


(_J


UJ


O _I


<C UJ


oo


■pz


UJ


<t


*— 1




H- e3



rs q:



s:


o




o z






o




IE


1— *




O 1-




•a:


S




UJ


1—




CO oo




UJ


►— *




cc


UJ




u.


cc




o


a:


^_^


z o z


O Li. O


1—*




l-H


1-


UJ


1—


CO


_j
CO


2


•— *


ct 1-


ca


_J


00


y-


»-H


t—4


c/1 <:


o


I— <


>


UJ


Q <:


q:



CO



>
1 1 i n

1— s-

c o

o ^



■o



rtJfO
C (/)
O Ol
•I- c

•I- c

T3 >
ef UJ



1— ns

C >,

O ra

■<- -o

4-> i-

•I- 3

-O 4J

-O (D



S- J=

3 ■!->

O C

d: O



c o

O -r-
•r- +->

•I- <u
T3 I—

•o UJ

<:



(O -r-

-M C
O 3



o

<_5






CT>




CM


o


^


r^


3


cri


r^




&.


«a-


1


«^


o


<o


LO


^


CO


'




3:









>—














o












































/\






















c/l


CM


,^^


r*-


1


v£)


«*


«3


1 —


CO




S-


ID


«*


in




OO


•*


Ln


vo


00




3:






















o






















r—






















V

































&5


»«


^


a^





^






O


O


o


o


o


o


o


o


o






o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o




o


I^


^^


^


CO


o


^


o


r^


o




z




CM


'"'


CM


CO




*""




"*




(/)


ro


^ ^


<j\


r>-


o


<J3


o


CO


o




<u


00


CM


00


r~.


r^


00


<T>


<Ti


<x>




>-
























&s








<r«








*9












o


O


o


o


o


o


O


o


o






o


o


o


o


o


o


O


o


o




o


o


^


r^


Ln


o


in


in


CO


vo




z


oo


1


CO


CM




■>*


CM


CO


in




(/)


o


,_^


CO


ir>


o


in


Ln


r^


^a-




<u


r-.


^


VO


r^


en


in


r«»


lO


■=a-




>-




— '




















&s


5^



























o


(^


o


o


o


o


o


o


o






o


O


o


o


o


o


o


o


o




o


00




00


CT>


CSJ


r^


^


o


«:^




z


CO


CO

o


CO


ur>


CO


CM


CO


^


«a-




I/)


OJ




CM


r^


00


CO


LO


o


lO




<u


U3


1 —


US


^


<X)


r-^


<£>


IX)


in




>-




' — ^























&9





&9





















o


o


o


O


o


o


o


o


o






o


o


o


O

r—


o


o


o


o


o





























o


CO


<£)


o


<£)


CO


o


CM


^~






o








r—


1 —


CM


CM


1 —






*"






















o


«^ CO CO


^__


CO


r~.


CM


LO


CM






o




1 — ^—


CM


CO


CM


■^


«d-


CM






CM






















II






















z


c
o


c
o




















•r-


•r-


O


o


o


o


o


O








s:


r~*


O


o


o


o


o


O










^—


O


o


o


o


o


O






<u


^—


•r—


^


•*


•*


•»


»t


«t






N




s:


o


o


o


o


in


o








c




o


LT)


o


un


CM


^—






OO


x:


■"


Ln


CM


■"■












c


(—


1


1


1


1


1


1


c






o
















03








s-


o


o


o


o


o


o


-C






-M


0)


o


o


o


o


o


o


-!->






fO


+j


o


o


o


o


o


o










to


«l


•t


•»


n


«\


«


lO






3


(U


o


o


o


o


in


o


I/)






Q.


s-


o


ir>


o


in


CM


r^


<U






O


o


u->


CM










_l






Q.























c





4->


o




c


u




o


<u




^


"o)




c






o


c




•1—


10




4J






u


o>




0)


c




<u


3




c


■o




(O


c




CT>


o




c


•r-




• ^


+->




s-


(O




3


s-




■o


4->

in




c


•r-




o


C7)




•^


OJ




+J


s-




rtJ






S-


1+-




■t->


o




1/1






•^


10




ai


i.




<u


3




i-


o




>+-






o


C71




lO


• ^*




s-


c




3


a>




O


>




JC


<u




,


,




(O


<0




c


c




o


o




•r-


•^




■t->


+J





• ^-


■r~


10


T3


T3


0)


-D


T3


C7>


ro


fO


4J


<V


(U


c


F


£


(U


o


o


o


I/)


10


0)


en


en


o.


c


c




•^*


•r—


c


+->


+->


<o


s~


S-


^


o


o


4->


Q.


Q.




QJ


<u


i.


S_


s-




CO


lO


-M


Ol


OJ


fO


o


o


s-


(0


10




^—


r-^


J-


a.


Q.


J3


<u


<u


t


CO


10


3


o


o


c


^


^




■*->


-!->


IT3


o


o


3


+->


-!->


(J


>>


>>





^^


^^




c


c


o


o


o


+->


1/1


CO


10


s-


s- ^


i.


0)


<D -t-"


<u


4-


•4- C


M-


<u


OJ o


<u


a:


ct: E


Qi



105



00






CO



LlJ
00



OO

Lij 2:

>- o
1— o

o <:

I— LU
CD CO



Q O

ai
o
o o

CJ 1—1

=1 h-
Q q;

UJ =3

> Q
Qi

UJ O

00 :

en et

o

OO

OO ;

UJ :

CJ o

car Q
_j i«i

Q- CC

UJ

CD ct:
2: QQ



o >

u_ <C

o r-



o o

I— >-

ZD CJ

CO :

1—1 I

on :

\- Cr

OO UJ

>-< a:

Q U.



CO





c






























"C •






























-C l/l






























1— s_




















.»— s»










31


LO


1


o


1


1


1


CO


1


1


1


O


1


1




OJ






CM














^ ^


CM








S- CM




























S-


O




























OJ


s:




























-o






























1-


1




























o


c •




























O


•1- CO


"*


ro


1


1


r^


LD


ID


1


o


- -


O


r^


1




3:


CM


OO






1 —


1 —


r~




un


,1^


UD


<X)




+J


o




























:3


ro CM




























o


c:




























CO


m •




























CD


x: c




























-(->


h— -r-




























:3


s:


^—


t^


o


o


OO


LD


>x>


o


O


®


O


OO


o


c:


00


r^


IX)


CO


o


CO


CO


^


o


OO


CM


OO


o


•r—


00 O








r—








r~










r—


s:


Qj m
































5^





s^








&5








s^


















O


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


O


o


o


OJ




O


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o






























c






























•r- lO


0)




























-C c


c:




























u S


o -a




























rO O


CD




























5: -o


+-> +->




























J^


t/1 s_





























en fO


fB o


CM


00


un


X)


LO


IX>


o


CO


OO


s


<*


CM


OO


c: OJ


OJ Q.


1 —










^-


CM




r—




r—


CM


•r- s_


_J cu




























+j oa


oc




























o


■>->




























>
t/1


<c
























































O)






























c






























•n-






























-C






























u


o


CM


1 —


^


en


ro


o


CTl


«=1-


, —


1


CO


OO


o


rO


■z.


m


ro


ro


OO


OO


OO


OsJ


OO


CM






r^


LD


s: -o






























(U


1/1




















'9-^








CD lO


QJ


<3-


O


r^


CM


CO


<y\


^—


VX>


CT>


OO


CM


r^


O


c rD


>-


r-^


r^


IX)


IX)


U3


«3


r^


<X)


r - .


00


CO


ID


-TJ




^


^





&s


s^


3^


^


s^





5J5





3^


^^


o




o


o


o


o


o


O


o


o


o


O


o


o


o


>




o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


o


O


o


o


o






'














'




'


'


'


'






























u




^


























13




o


QO


CM


o


CM


<*


'^


LD


OO


f—


^_


a\


OO


■— -a




o




^—


r—


1 —












r—






a. O)




r—


























>






























CD S-




«*


V~-


o


1^


1 —


r^


o


CM


LD


OO


r—


OO


OO


c a>




CO


ro


IX)


«:t


Ln


^o


r^


CM


r—




LD


^




1- lO




■vT


























1— J3






























1— o




II
















o










o














o






o










Q.




■z.




o
o




o
o
o


o
o

o


o
o
o


o
o
o


o
o


o
o

o














O


o


o


f\




t*


Lf)


*<^


o














o


A


o


LD


*.<>


o


V*


1
















CD


o


o


■0<»


1


r'-




o


v>










(D








«t




o


*/*


i.


o












^—




LT)


t<*


o


s.


o




QJ


o


i.










JD


CD


*/=^


1


^—


QJ


o


s-


-o


«\


QJ




o






ro


O




o


*>o-


■o


«t


QJ


c


uo


>




o






• r-


<T3


%-


o




c


irl


>


ZD


t^


O


o


o


o




S-


r—


<D


o


s_


^


*J=y


O




1




o




o




03


Q.


T3


•^


QJ


1


\




CD


en


cn


o


o


o




>




c


LD


>


QJ


QJ


QJ


c


E


E


w\




A






CD


^


<^


o


-M


-t->


+->


• r—


•r—


• r-


LD


^


o






C


1


1-


1


•^


<r—


'f—


-i^


.^


j»<:


*^


1


1—






•r-


QJ


QJ


a;


-C


-C


^


(O


OJ


rtj




o


*/»






r^


-tJ


■!->


-u


3


3


3


QJ


QJ


QJ


i.


o








r—


•r—


•r—


•1—








Q.


CL


Q.


QJ


o


s_






o


-C


-E


-C


o


O


CJ


OO


00


00


-o


•^


QJ






Cl.


3


3


3


•^












E


ID


>














c


c


c


J=


J=


^


Z3


■fa**


o






4-


CJ


U


u


x:


^


-C


CO


00


00


1


1








O




•r—




■fj


-!->


-l->


• r—


>,—


•r—


JUS


J>£


.^








c


c


e:


0)


QJ


QJ


£


c


E


O


o


o






CD


x:


x:


^


c


c


C


fO


(T3


(O


lO


rtJ


(O






Q.


+->


■i->


+->


o


o


o


Q.


Q.


Q.












>>


UJ


UJ


UJ


z


z


2:


OO


OO


00


m


s


cn






1—



























10

0)
CD
ro
+-)

E
QJ
O
i-
OJ
Ci

E



s-

OJ

x:
s-

QJ



n3
O



i-

M-
QJ



106



PERCEPTIONS AND ATTITUDES OF
LOCAL OFFICIALS AND CITIZEN GROUP REPRESENTATIVES

The perceptions and attitudes of officials and conomu-
nity leaders are important to an examination of election sys-
tems for several reasons. First, they are frequently reflect-
ed in administrative behavior and in evaluations of that be-
havior. In many cases, they also indicate the willingness
or unwillingness of community leadership to undertake needed
administrative and legislative reform. Where opinions are
backed by the power of an office or the resources of an organ-
ization, they take on added importance. Finally, such attitu-
dinal data often show how different groups perceive community
problems and the extent to which they are sensitive to citi-
zen needs.

Perception of Registration and Voting Problems

Long lines, short office hours, inaccessible registra-
tion and polling places, and registration periods remote from
the date of election are common experiences to many Americans.

Interviews with local officials who hold the author-
ity, responsibility and power to alleviate these problems
show that they are generally insensitive to them. For in-
stance, less than one-fourth of election officials held that
the following were problems in their communities:

Residency requirements

Complex registration procedures

Complex absentee voting procedures

Inconvenient registration hours

Distant and inconvenient places of registration

Complicated voting procedures, i.e. use of

voting machines and paper ballots

Inconvenient hours of polling

Positioning candidate names on the ballot, and

Insuring the proper functioning of voting machines

On the other hand, most persons representing voting
rights groups viewed all of these as serious problems in
their communities.

Attitudes Toward Legislative and Administrative Reforms

Although the need for legislative action to reform
the electoral process has been documented and endorsed by sev-
eral committees of national prominence (see page 1), the

11



107



League of Women Voters Education Fund community study shows
that local election officials are reluctant to support many
legislative changes and to assume the responsibility for ad-
ministering reforms. For instance, support by local election
officials dipped to less than a majority in regard to the fol-
1 owi ng :

Carrying out door-to-door registration by

government officials
Updating registration lists monthly for

public review
Requiring at least 16 hours of training for

election officials
Extending voting hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Conducting elections on a non-work day
Publishing voter education materials at

least 30 days prior to an election
Placing local election officials under state

merit systems.

In short, election officials seem to view the govern-
ment as a passive participant in the electoral process with
no responsibility for reaching out to citizens. They appar-
ently believe that the initiative lies entirely with the citi-
zen. This would seem to suggest at least one reason why 47
million Americans didn't vote in 1968. The issue clearly
goes beyond the generally accepted explanation of voter apa-
thy. Viewed from another perspective, the question arises
that if the government can find a citizen to tax him or draft
him into military service, is it not reasonable to assume
that the government can find that same citizen to enroll him
as an eligible voter and include him in the active electorate?



12



108



Q
UJ

t—
<_>
LlJ

_J
LU

oo

I—






1 — 1


<>ol


OO ctl


o


UJ


CL


Q




»— <


>-




CO


Q




O


t/O Ol


LlJ


ts


>




1— *


>-


(—


_l


<: —1


1- <


z


o


UJ


t— (


OO


00


UJ


<:


Qi


CQ


Q.




UJ


UJ


OL


q:




<c


—1




<c ool


z


UJ


o


<_5


1— (


>— 1


(—


1-


cC <_>!


rvi


2


z:


Q.


««




C3


Z


q; oi


o


1 — 1




1—


u.


CJ


o


UJ




-J


1—


UJ


z




UJ


Q


o


z


Qi «a:i


UJ




Q.


z




o


Q


)— 4


Z


1—


<: <:i




cc


q:


I—


UJ


oo


QQ


1 — I


^ cnl




UJ


z


Qi






CTl
C
IT3
OH



Ol



5
o



C3



CT(>-



oo



s«l



»«l



&S|



*«l



a«l



&«l



&«l



CVJ
00


CVJ


00


in

00


CO

CM


CO


en


«3-


o


en




in

00




CO
00




O

1^


LO
CsJ


1^

00


in

l£>


CO


CVJ
00


00


s


in

00


CO

in


00




CM






in

CM



<3-



00



in



CO
CM



en



o
in



CO

CM



CO



00
00



CM

cn



CO



lO



CO






en

<3-



lO



CO

CO












CTl



O



CO
«3



CVJ
CTv



en



CO



1^



CO



in

CM



1^



CO



00



ID



CO
CO



in

CO



o

CM



cn

CM



T3

0) S-

•.- O) 1.

i. S- +J

(O O O

O >



03 -r-
to

-a I—

1— ra

Z3 -r-

o o

-C •!-

1/1 M-

M-

c o
o



<u



sz
o

V)

c

0)
N



T3 C
(L O
10 •!-
O 4->

I— O

o <u



o



•1- (/>



o

c



<a



-M -M



o



c

(T3 OJ
i- E

4-> C 0) •
10 i- I— lO
•r- (U J3 -l->

cn > •>- CO
OJ o cn-i-

S_ CJl-i- I—

j-<— 'oi c
o (O o

O O I— -r-
TD O r- ■•->

I I — m as
o s-

s- cn-i-

o +J cn

o 3 o <u

Q o ■•-> s_



-D S-

■— o

o <u

1/1

to
c >,
O (O

•.- -o
+->

(O o

s- CO

■4->

I/) E
•r- ro

cn^

s.
1-

0) c

■M O

o o
> l/>



CO



+->
o

>

s-
o



to
-M

c

OJ

E

<u



o
to

O)
O)

u

X

O)

+J
o

c



3 3
CT O

0) -C

S- to

>> to

o c

c o

QJ -1-

73 4->

•I- O

t/l 0)

QJ 1—

q; Q)



to
o



to .
1 — to

+-> 03
to •!-

QJ -r-



■M O
ITS

O) o
i~ -1-
•1- ■(->

O" QJ

QJ I—
i- O)

-D S-
■— O

3 4-

O
^ C

(/) O
•r—

■M O

3 S-
O -M
O lO

c



c

Q)
Q.
O



O E
.c •

to Q.

to O
QJ O
O- ••

fo cn

a. o
+->

CD



1— (O

o

Q-O

o

<T3

■O +J

to

C lO

O Q)



QJ (O



s-
o

I

c
o

c



c
o



■o



J3


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on PostVoter registration. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on S. 352 and S. 472. Feb. 7, 8, and March 16, 1973 → online text (page 11 of 28)