Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Frances Fox Piven

Committee Members

John Mollenkopf

Edward Schneier

Marshall Berman

Subject Categories



Political scientists continue to debate the causes, consequences and remedies for America's exceptionally low voter turnout. While scholarly investigation has focused on several factors which produce low voter turnout, the machinery that administers elections in the U.S. has been ignored. Nor have the political influences and environments that determine these agencies' procedures and their place in the electoral system been adequately analyzed. There is, nevertheless, good reason to believe boards of elections play a greater role in shaping participation than is generally appreciated. Evidence indicates that in conducting elections and in implementing electoral rules–such as voter registration procedures–boards of elections can impact upon participation. Practices of boards of elections reflect the influence of networks of dominant political actors who are represented on these boards, and who mutually resist outsiders, whether as insurgent candidates or new and unpredictable voters, having incumbency interests in maintaining a stable and constricted electorate and party system. Thus, since the process of implementing electoral law is variable, and there is considerable latitude in the discretionary actions that boards of elections can take, their practices tend to reflect and serve these dominant political relations. This dissertation examines the politics involved in the development and impacts of voter registration procedures and election administration in New York during the decades surrounding the turn of the century and from 1984 to 1996.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

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