Voter registration requirements, voter turnout, and welfare eligibility policy: Class bias matters

J. M. Avery, Mark Peffley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

The 1990s saw some of the most dramatic changes in the American social welfare system in recent decades at both the national and state levels. In particular, states were granted, and took advantage of, much wider latitude in deciding who is eligible to receive welfare benefits. To what extent did the composition of a state's electorate influence the restrictiveness of the welfare eligibility requirements it adopted at this time? We find that in states where lower-class voter turnout was comparable to that of the upper class, lawmakers were less likely to pass restrictive welfare eligibility rules. We also find that electorates in states with restrictive voter registration laws are much more likely to be biased toward upper-class turnout. Thus, lower-class voter mobilization can affect the ability of the disadvantaged to achieve policies consistent with their interests, but state voter registration laws pose a substantial barrier to such mobilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalState Politics and Policy Quarterly
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations

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