Date Approved

2004

Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Ohren

Second Advisor

Dr. Edward Sidlow

Abstract

This thesis proposes that two of the most serious threats to modern American democracy are declining voter participation and rising perceptions of election fraud. The thesis provides examples that these problems do in fact exist and have been becoming more pronounced in the past twenty years. Of particular interest is that in many elections, especially local elections held separately from national elections, decisions are made by fewer than thirty percent of eligible voters, raising the question of how legitimate the elections really are. The advent of computerized voting is also important as it increases the perception that fraud can occur and will be harder to discover. The thesis then provides theories about what causes are at the root of both problems, such as minority disenfranchisement, and what some possible solutions may be, along with the potential drawbacks of each.

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