1. In what ways other than voting can people participate in the political process? Which ones are electoral and which ones are not? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each kind of activity?
Given that voting in the United States is less common than in many other established democracies, why do you think that other forms of political participation are fairly common? What does that say about politics in the United States? What does it say about politics in other countries?
One of the interesting wrinkles in recent elections is that women have consistently voted and registered in higher numbers than men. Why might this be the case? Encourage the class to think about both men and women when they answer. Given that women now make up a majority of the all of the voters and the registrants, why are women not better represented in elected offices?
What are the advantages of allowing voters to vote early or using absentee ballots? What are the disadvantages? Why might a state choose to have early voting or use absentee ballots? Why might a state not have such policies?
Ballot roll off is a common problem in American elections. Why might a person vote for president and then fail to vote for lower offices? What changes could be made to reduce the high level of ballot roll off?
What do you think about the idea (posited by Wattenburg, among others) that young people are less likely to vote because they are less likely to follow politics? Does this seem reasonable? How much attention do you and your friends pay to political news? How much education about politics and civics did you have at the high school level?
Do you think that the government pays less attention to the young due to their low voter participation? Why or why not?
Have you personally ever voted? If so, please describe the process of registering and actually voting. Have you missed any elections? If so, how come? If the class is generally freshmen who may not have had any opportunities to vote yet, encourage them to answer in regards to their parents or older siblings.
If you have voted, what factors helped you make the decision to do so? If you did not but could have, why did you decide not to? How do these factors compare to the expectations of Downs?
What is devolution and how did it reflect a major change in the way that the federal government spent money? In what ways could devolution lead to positive changes? Negative changes?
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