Following the 2010 Republican successes in state elections, state laws have been passed that require various forms of identification to vote and that cut back on early voting.
The Supreme Court's 2008 decision that Indiana's voter ID law does not violate the Constitution cleared the way for the election rule battles.
Almost half of the states have instituted voting restrictions because of that decision.
These include voter ID requirements, restrictions of voter registration drives, elimination of election-day registration, and a cutting back on opportunities for early voting.
A number of states in the deep South implemented restrictive provisions that were denied under the preclearance requirement.
Changes in Virginia show how the Republican-controlled state governments have adopted measures such as eliminating same-day registration, reducing the early voting period, and requiring a photo ID.
Republicans insist that these measures are intended to reduce voter fraud, but there is little or no evidence that voter fraud exists, and the real agenda is to restrict the voting of minorities, the poor, and the young, who are seen as sympathetic to Democrats.
The electoral rules are not decided.
Efforts to restrict voting in the legislature and in the courts are being challenged by citizen and partisan groups.
The idea that this is a battle to regulate the electorate for partisan advantage is supported by the sharp partisan divide on electoral restrictions.
The courts struck down restrictive state election laws in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, and North Dakota before the 2016 election.
The Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina voter ID law because it was too restrictive, and it has signaled its intent to leave all but the most egregious cases to the states.
Many political observers, activists, politicians, and political scientists worry about the extent of nonvoting in the United States.
Observers fear that the abstention signals an indifference to the political process.
We know a lot about who votes and who doesn't in America based on survey data.
Older citizens vote at higher rates than younger people.
A difference is also made by gender.
Women have been voting at a higher rate than men since 1984.
The likelihood of voting increases with income and education.
Turnout has historically been lower for members of racial and ethnic minority groups.
In 2008 and 2012 an African American became the Democratic nominee.
Students wait in line to vote at the University of Central Arkansas.
Convenience may be a factor in why many people don't vote.
The differences are substantial when we add these characteristics together.
The turnout rate for males with less than a high school education is about a third the rate for females with advanced degrees.
Our elected officials are indebted to the higher ranked people in society.
They are not elected by the low-participation.
The United States claims to be a great, if not the greatest, democracy.
There is no consensus on who should vote.
Those who think poorly of the less educated and less engaged think their vote will be harmful to the republic.
Critics believe that the more people involved in the process, the more legitimate the results will be.
Republicans fear that the easier it is to vote, the more Democrats will turn out and hurt their chances.
If everyone voted, the electorate might change dramatically.
Explain the influences on who votes and who doesn't.
The decision not to vote is surprising given the important functions of democracy, the costs of nonvoting, and the tremendous struggle many groups have had to achieve the right to vote.
Voting is important to different citizens.
For some, it is a significant aspect of their identities as citizens: 87 percent of American adults believe that voting in elections is a "very important obligation" for Americans, although about half that many actually vote.
If we choose to go to the polls, there are a number of factors that need to be considered, including our partisan identification and social group membership, our stance on the issues, and our evaluation of the job government has been doing.
In this section, we look at how these factors play out in voting.
Although we may not consciously consider each of these factors, most play a role in our final decision.
One option is to not vote at all.
Americans have lower voter turnout levels than citizens of other democratic nations.
Despite increases in education, age, and income, which generally increase the number of voters, presidential election turnout rates have barely gotten over the 60-percent mark for more than thirty years.