Describe the characteristics and functions of American political parties.

Students will write an essay, 500-750 words in length, on a topic selected from the list below. The purpose of the project is to give students an opportunity to discuss a key political science concept, and to show a basic understanding of academic research and reporting skills. The project consists of producing a 500-750 work essay on one of the provided topics (see below), as well as a works cited page for sources containing information used in the essay. The assignment is to be formatted according to the Modern Language Association (ML) style. Students should research this style in order to properly format the assignment; papers not formatted properly will not receive a passing grade.

Students should use Courier or New Courier 12 point as the paper’s font, double space the text, and create one inch margins on all four sides of the page. In addition, the assignment should be formatted according to ML style for papers with no title page.

Please choose from one of the following topics for your writing assignment:

  1. In Chapter 5, “Voting, Campaigns, and Elections,” the authors provide an in-depth discussion of voter turnout. Complete the following:
    • Explain how voter turnout is measured.
    • Compare voter turnout in the U.S. with that in other countries.
    • Describe the factors that affect the level of voter turnout in the United States.
    • Compare voter turnout in Texas to that in the United States as a whole.
    • Identify the historic and contemporary factors which have led to a culture of low voter turnout in Texas.
    • How do you think voter turnout could be increased in Texas?
  2. Describe the use of campaign contributions by lobbies and explain the extent to which lobbying is regulated in Texas.
    • Identify the organization responsible for overseeing lobbying in Texas.
    • Compare regulation of campaign finance at the national and state level (in Texas).
    • What appears to be difference in approach between the two?
    • Which method do you believe is better for purposes of maintaining the integrity of the election process?
  3. Describe the characteristics and functions of American political parties.
    • Explain the relationship between the national political parties and the state political parties.
    • Review the Texas Democratic Party platform and the Texas Republican Party platform and explain the differences.
    • Compare each state party platform to its national party platform counterpart and explain the differences between the national and state party platforms.
    • Why do you believe differences would exist between the national and state party platforms?
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