Week 4 Discussion  Discussion Topic             Task: Reply to this topic         Due August 6 at 11:59 PM      

You are a county supervisor of elections and have been tasked to develop a policy to increase voter turnout. Prepare an 8–10 slide PowerPoint presentation of your proposed policy.

Post your presentation to the Discussion Area with a short introduction. Spend time reviewing other students’ presentations. Comment on at least 2 students’ presentations. Comment on the suggestions provided by your fellow classmates that you believe would be effective strategies to increase voter turnout.

Review the comments provided by your fellow students and answer the following questions:

  • After reading your fellow student’s presentations, what features of their plans would you incorporate into your approach?
  • What do other “democratic” countries do to encourage voter participation?

Start reviewing and responding to your classmates as early in the week as possible. Be sure to be honest, clear, and concise. Always use constructive language, even in criticism, to work toward the goal of mutual understanding. Be sure to engage and reflect upon important text concepts and course notes within your responses. In order for this to be a discussion, it is very important that we “converse” with one another. Be sure to engage and respond to your classmate’s posts in a timely, thoughtful manner.

Submission Details:

  • Post your response to the Discussion Area by the due date assigned. Respond to at least two posts by the end of the week.

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The Electoral Process

Few areas in American politics seem to be in such need of change and reform as campaigns, voting, and elections. Polls show that many Americans are dissatisfied with the length of campaigns, vicious campaign strategies, poor caliber candidates, and the overpowering influence of campaign contributions on the electoral system. In the 2000 presidential election, there was also dissatisfaction with the apparent inadequacy of the Electoral College. Few serious reforms result because the reforms might affect the people in office. Once the campaign fury subsides, most citizens want to get on with their lives and allow elected officials to take office and govern society.

The cost of waging a national or statewide campaign continues to rise due to the need to obtain media coverage, to use new technology, and to hire many campaign professionals. The issue of how campaigns are to be financed in the future, while still preserving freedom of speech and press for all, including the candidates, is one that will continue to demand the attention of American voters and politicians.

The Internet undoubtedly will play an even greater role in campaigns of the future, forcing society to deal issues as transparency, truthfulness of the content of Web publications and the security of one’s own interactions with the Internet. The success of mail-in balloting in Oregon suggests American political system may embrace new forms of voting such as mail-in voting, telephone balloting, or Internet voting more in keeping with the emerging society and technology of today.

Perhaps the most important issue for the future of our political system is the increasing cynicism and apathy of the American electorate. As voter participation falls and cynicism rises, the nation will need to address the issues that have sapped the public’s confidence in both the government and the electoral system

Additional Materials

People and Politics – Interest Groups

The role of interest groups in America has been in question since the writing of the Constitution. James Madison, among many others, worried about how to control the “mischiefs of faction,” while recognizing that the very business of a democracy is to resolve the conflicts among different interests. Today the power of interest groups is probably greater than ever before. PACs sponsored by interest groups are able to raise and spend huge amounts of money to support candidates and parties; groups use modern technology, and increasingly the Internet, to rally and inform their membership; and Congress seems unable to get beyond the adjudication of interests to write policy for the good of all.

In the future, Americans will need to consider whether to limit the role that interest groups can play in campaigns and elections, either by reducing the financial support that these groups can give or by eliminating their influence altogether through public financing strategies. The goal of such an approach is to expand the power of all taxpayers, and not just special interest groups, to impact the electoral process. It is unlikely that there will be any attempt to severely limit the contact that interest groups have with political decision-makers, since the First Amendment protects their right to access. Lobbyists could, however, be required to report every contact publicly; interest groups could be required to make public the amount that they spend on attempts to influence government; and the use of media by special interest groups could be regulated.

The existence of interest groups, nonetheless, has great advantages for a democracy. By participating in such groups, individual citizens are empowered to influence government in ways far beyond the ballot. Groups do increase the interest and participation of voters in the electoral system. In addition, these groups can protect the rights of minority interests through their access to all branches and levels of government. No doubt, numerous groups—particularly among segments of society that have largely been left out of the political process—will take advantage of the internet to promote their interests at a lower cost. In any case, political participation in a pluralistic society, with its emphasis on group struggle and representation, will more than likely expand the number, role and function of interest groups within the political process.

Electoral College

The founding fathers established the Electoral College in the Constitution as a compromise between those who advocated for election of the President by the Congress and those who advocated for election of the President by the people. From the Connecticut Compromise of 1787, each State has two Senators and members of the House of Representatives based on population. The Presidential election is held every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November per the Constitution with the popular vote outcome determining how the Electoral votes will be cast for each State and Washington D.C. The total number of Senators and Representatives of each State determine its number of electoral votes. Currently there are 538 electoral votes available with 535 from the States and 3 from Washington, D.C. because of the 23rd Amendment. To win the Electoral College, it takes a minimum of 270 votes.Thus, 50 separate State elections and Washington, D.C. occur with a “winner-take-all” approach with the exceptions of Nebraska and Maine who have a modified popular vote concept. The winning party based on the popular vote outcome selects a slate of electors who meet on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December to officially cast the State’s Electoral Votes per State law which requires the vote to mirror the popular vote outcome. The election process is completed when  Congress meets in joint session on January 6th in the year following the election in November in which the results are canvassed. The Electoral votes are tallied and the President of the Senate (current sitting Vice-President) declares the winner. The President-Elect takes office on January 20th following the year in which the election was held.

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