Students will write an essay, at least 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 research paper at least 750 words in length 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 (MLA) style. Papers not formatted properly will not receive a passing grade. At least three sources are required to be used and cited. You must use 2-4 times per page. The writing and presentation should be very formal, as opposed to the more relaxed style we see in discusssion postings. Do not use the words ‘I’, ‘we’ or ‘you’ in this writing. Rather than writing: ‘I think’ voter turnout would increase if….; simply begin with: ‘Voter turnout would increase…’ instead. By eliminating the opinion related words and stating your opinion as a fact, you have developed a conclusion. This is where your sources will come in. At the end of your conclusion, simply cite a source that supports the conclusion at the end of the sentence (like this, parenthetical citation). Do not use direct quotes for more than 10% of your paper. Paraphrase any key ideas taken from the sources and cite them as stated above at the end of the paraphrased sentence. These are basic good writing practices for formal assignments.  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 MLA style for papers with no title page.  Please choose from one of the following topics for your writing assignment:   In Chapter 2, “The Constitutional Setting,” the authors describe the various state constitutions of Texas, with particular attention to the current state constitution. Complete the following:  Describe the features of the current Texas constitution. Explain the influences that were critical in the structure and powers of the government created in the final document. Identify similarities and differences between the Texas Constitution and the U.S. constitution. Illustrate your points with specific examples from each of the legislative, executive, and judicial articles.   In Chapter 2, “The Constitutional Setting,” the authors describe the amendment process for the Texas Constitution. Complete the following: Describe the rules for amending the Texas constitution. Discuss the attempts at constitutional reform during the 1970’s. Explain why constitutional reform was attempted and why it ultimately failed. Is it better to have a detailed constitution that requires frequent amendment as specific situations arise, or a constitution that has broad language providing government with flexibility to handle a diverse set of situations as they arise? Why or why not?   In Chapter 11, “Local Government,” The authors explain the purposes and structures of local governments within the state of Texas. Complete the following: Identify the structure and role of local governments within the state of Texas. Explain the purpose and function of each type of local government. Some states have consolidated the county and city functions into a single governmental entity. Would Texas would be better served by maintaining its several, distinct, types of local government, or by consolidating them into broader units of government that would handle the various functions within a single governmental entity? Why?   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 could voter turnout could be increased in Texas?   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 is better for purposes of maintaining the integrity of the election process? Why?   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 might differences exist between the national and state party platforms? Submission Instructions: Complete your assignment using word-processing software such as MS Word, Open Office (download free software at, or other per course requirements. Save your file as an .docx, .doc, .rtf or .txt file to ensure that it can be opened by any computer. If you are using a MAC, convert to the PC format compatible with word, wordpad, etc. AND send the document to me using the messaging tool in this course. Submit your assignment by selecting the writing assignment link in lesson 1, browsing to, and attaching your saved file from your desktop. Make sure to select SUBMIT. You may view your posting both on this page and under My Grades.

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