2 discussion

1   Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of states across the country moved to expand access to voting by mail.  However, there were concerns in Texas and other states with the integrity of a mail-in ballot. Is it secure enough? In Texas, you have to provide a reason to vote by mail (specifically citing illness, disability, or age). Is the risk of contracting COVID-19 the same as having an illness? Or, should we just have the right to vote by mail regardless of any criteria?    Discussion Question: Is expanding voting by mail the right thing to do? What are the primary concerns? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?  Would voting by mail potentially increase voter fraud?  Is there any evidence that voting by mail actually would favor one party over the other?  Is there evidence that voting by mail increases turnout?  What other reforms would you recommend to increase voter turnout in the United States? Before you respond, consider reviewing these resources and perspectives on the topic: What You Need to Know About Voting By Mail (PBS NewsHour) https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/what-you-need-to-know-about-voting-by-mail  (Links to an external site.) Analysis: It’s harder to vote in Texas than in any other state https://www.texastribune.org/2020/10/19/texas-voting-elections/  (Links to an external site.)   How Are We Going to Vote? (Austin Chronicle) https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2020-06-12/how-are-we-going-to-vote/ (Links to an external site.)  (Links to an external site.) In the Pandemic, Every State Should Vote by Mail: Voting should not be a matter of life and death https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/moral-urgency-voting-mail/609928/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3M_Wwenv6wIViobACh3cFgjUEAAYAyAAEgKPIvD_BwE  (Links to an external site.)   Other articles or news clips: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/there-is-no-evidence-that-voting-by-mail-gives-one-party-an-advantage/ (Links to an external site.)  (Links to an external site.) https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/04/opinion/coronavirus-vote-by-mail.html (Links to an external site.)  (Links to an external site.) https://www.wtvy.com/content/news/Its-broken-Fears-grow-about-strength-of-US-voting-system-571214621.html (Links to an external site.)  (Links to an external site.) 2  2  Is It Time for a Strong Third Party? How Have Third Party Candidates Impacted Modern Politics in the United States and in Texas? Although once viewed with great skepticism, today, political parties play a central role in the American political system. Political parties serve a number of important purposes. They provide financial support to candidates; they facilitate elections and they help educate citizens about the political system as well as mobilize voters. The United States has a two-party system, the division of voter loyalties between two major political parties. Other political parties do exist and even run candidates for political office.  However, these minor parties, usually called third parties, have a difficult time winning elections. The reasons for this problem are largely structural, while other reasons are related to attitudinal barriers. Some of the factors that contribute to the dominance of the two-party system are as follows: Because minor-party candidates have little chance of electoral success, most Americans are unlikely to give their money to such candidates or vote for them. The media tend to ignore third party candidates. This policy by the media makes it extremely difficult for third party candidates to have their views heard. Only a third-party candidate with a large amount of money to pay for media time, such as Ross Perot, has much of a chance of receiving more than just a few votes. Perhaps the most important reason that the U.S. is a two-party system and not a multi-party system like most democracies is our lack of proportional representation. In countries that have proportional representation, political parties run candidates for office and any party that wins a set percentage of the vote (perhaps 10%) receives that percentage of the representation in the legislative body (the British Parliament is a good example). In the U.S., we have a plurality election system, a winner-takes-all system of electing officials. The candidates who receive the majority of the votes in an election win the office. Candidates who receive a small percentage of the votes receive nothing. However, the increasing division and gridlock between Democrats and Republicans highlight what some see as a growing need for a strong third party.  Opinion polls also affirm the dissatisfaction Americans have with current policymakers. As a result, some wonder if we are ripe for a strong third political party. What do you think? Is it time for a strong third party? Given the nature (and the structure) of our two-party system, is this feasible? How have third party candidates affected modern politics? How have third-party candidates fared in state elections?

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