Essay: Election/Voting Reform
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
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 3-4
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.
In your essay, you are required to document (cite) all of your courses. If you do not cite a source, it is
considered plagiarism. Because of the issue of plagiarism, it is extremely important that you
document all the works cited in your paper and all of the supplemental material you read, even if you
don’t refer to the work in your paper. According to PCC Policy No. 4520, the following types of
conduct are subject to discipline: “Dishonesty, such as cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or
knowingly furnishing false information to the College or its officials; intentionally or knowingly
helping or attempting to help another commit an act of dishonesty.”
Plagiarism occurs when a writer reproduces the words of another author without acknowledgment or
when a writer paraphrases the ideas or arguments of another author in such a way as to lead the
reader to believe that the ideas or arguments originated with the writer. You are plagiarizing when
a. Copy material from a source without using quotation marks and proper citation.
b. Follow the movement of the source, substituting words and sentences but keeping its
meaning, without citing it.
c. Lift phrases or terms from a source and embed them in your own prose without using
quotation marks and proper citation.
d. Borrow ideas (that are not common knowledge) from a source without proper citation.
e. Turn in a paper wholly or partially written by someone else.
Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional. According to Andrea A. Lunsford in The Everyday
Writer (4th ed): “If your paraphrase is too close to the wording or sentence structure of a source (even
if you identify the source); if you do not identify the source of a quotation (even if you include the
quotation marks); or if you fail to indicate clearly the source of an idea that you obviously did not
come up with on your own, you may be accused of plagiarism even if your intent was not to
plagiarize” (p. 191).
IV. ESSAY DOCUMENTATION
When referring to and documenting different works in your essays, you may use whatever style of
documentation you prefer (MLA style, Chicago Style, Fowler Modern English Usage style, etc.) You
may use parenthetical notations or footnotes, but please DO NOT USE ENDNOTES.
V. GRAMMAR & PUNCTUATION
The purpose of writing the essay assignment is to engage with a political issue and to display your
knowledge of the issue in political terms. I will assess your work based upon the clarity of your
arguments, ideas, and explanations, as well as on the strength of your writing abilities. In this sense, your
work will be evaluated on the basis of the logic and quality of your arguments as well as your
grammatical skills. If you need assistance with grammar, punctuation, or general writing skills, you may
want to consult with the PCC Writing Support Center, located in the C345 and D306. More info at
VI. DOs & DON‘Ts
1. “I” and “My”
– you may use
“I” and “my” to
add emphasis in
your ideas from
the ideas of
1. Avoid using the word “You”
2. Do not use contractions
3. No extra line spaces between paragraphs.
4. Do not submit your paper in a special folder. Just use a staple.
5. DO NOT USE ENDNOTES.
6. Avoid composing sentences in the passive voice.
7. Avoid using clichés (Oxford Dictionary: “a phrase or opinion that is overused and
betrays a lack of original thought”). For example: money talks, all in the same boat, all
good deeds go unpunished, money doesn’t grow on trees, survival of the fittest, etc.