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Widespread political participation is central to the health of a functioning democracy, yet voter turnout rates in both general and midterm US elections vary considerably based on one’s financial well-being, with 2016 election data showing that lower-income adults voted 38% less than the financially well-off. Because lower income Americans often live paycheck-to-paycheck, engaging in unpaid activities such as learning about candidates, researching political issues, and getting to the polls all take a backseat to meeting essential needs. Using quantitative and analytic research methods, this research examines evidence of the connection between financial well-being and voter turnout and consider how the lower turnout of poorer Americans––who tend to favor Democrats––greatly affects the political landscape. This project then discusses how a universal basic income can be utilized to increase turnout among low-income voters and explore how this shift in voter participation might affect electoral outcomes.



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Empowering the Vote: Universal Basic Income’s Potential to Transform American Politics