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Voter Registration Requirements, Voter Turnout, and Welfare Eligibility Policy: Class Bias Matters

James M. Avery and Mark Peffley
State Politics & Policy Quarterly
Vol. 5, No. 1 (Spring, 2005), pp. 47-67
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40421537
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Voter Registration Requirements, Voter Turnout, and Welfare Eligibility Policy: Class Bias Matters
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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.

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