Essay: Election/Voting Reform
Description of Assignment
Write a 4 page essay in which you explore and critically assess the topic of election reform in the
United States and/or California. The essay must address at least one proposed or alternative electoral
reform that would change current election and/or voting practices.
In deciding what reform you choose to write on, you should explore the websites of various policy
think tanks, organizations, political parties, interest groups, and/or news sources that address the
topic of election/voting reform. Select at least one proposed electoral reform policy and write a 4
page paper analyzing the main points of the policy (or policies). Compare the proposed policy to
current US or state election policy. Critically analyze and discuss how the new policy will change
current election practices. Provide arguments as to whether the new policies will enhance or hinder
current election/voting practices, such as the level of democracy or citizen representation.
1. The essay must be between three to four pages, but no more than four.
2. The essay must analyze at least one election/voting reform and include an argument supporting or
opposing the reform(s).
3. The argument of the essay must be based upon research and evidence. The essay must include
references to at least four sources in its analysis.
4. All secondary sources must be cited, including the proper formatting for website sources.
5. The essay must follow the “Essay Requirements” below.
• Changes in redistricting practices (gerrymandering)
• Same Day Voter Registration or automatic voter registration.
• Changes in FCC (Federal Communications Commission) policy
• Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) or Ranked Choice Voting
• Proportional representation
• Electoral college reform
• Campaign finance reform
• No-fault absentee voting
• Early voting
• Mail-in voting
• Election Day as a holiday or time off for voting
• Voter’s Bill of Rights
• Changes in Presidential Debates to allow third parties.
• Increase the size of the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives
Possible points to include in your analysis.
• How will such electoral reforms improve the level of democracy, representation or citizen
• What issues will such reforms resolve?
• How will such reforms be put into practice?
• What laws need to change? Will it be necessary to change either the California Constitution or the
• Compare U.S. voting practices with the practices of other countries.
• Will the implementation of a particular reform lively improve voter turnout? (compare with other
countries or voting systems)
• Will such electoral reforms provide more or less democracy, equality, justice, freedom, and/or
representation? (provide reasons why this would be the case)
• What politicians support and/or oppose the election reforms and why?
• What political parties support and/or oppose election reform and why?
• What interest groups support and/or oppose election reform and why?
Organization of paper
There are several ways to organize the paper, and you are free to organize it the way you wish as
long as it is coherent.
Here is one brief example of how to organize this type of paper:
Paragraph 1: Introduction: a brief summary of the flaws in the current electoral system, a
summary of the reform, its purpose, and how it will improve current election/voting
Paragraph 2: A description of how the current system functions. Evidence that the current system
distorts, misrepresents, and/or under-represents election outcomes and/or the
votes and political views of the people.
Paragraph 3: A detailed description of the reform and evidence of how it will change current
election/voting practices. A description of the arguments and views of those
supporting the reform.
Paragraph 4: (a) A description of the arguments and views of those opposing the reform.
(b) Your critical analysis of both sides of the debate and of the evidence presented.
Here you may point out the inconsistencies in the different sides of the debate,
points that have not been raised, or ways to view the reform that have not been
discussed, among other things.
Paragraph 5: A summary of the arguments and evidence you have presented, and your view of
the proposed reform based upon the evidence and your analysis.
PAGE SETUP & FONTS
1. Paper size: 8.5″ x 11″
2. Page Margins: Left & Right: 1.25″, Top & Bottom: 1.00″
3. Font: Use a font with a serif, such as Times, Times New Roman, or Garamond, etc.
4. Font size: 12
5. Page Numbers: Include page numbers on each page, excluding the cover page.
6. Line spacing: double
7. No extra line spaces between paragraphs.
8. Quotations: Quotations over 35 words should be single spaced and indented .5″ from the left.