This guide will help you prepare for your final paper by organizing the information for your final paper, walking you through the process of defining your topic, researching and analyzing scholarly sources, creating an annotated bibliography, and crafting a thesis. Once you have completed the guide submit it to the online classroom for grading. 

After your instructor has graded the guide, please be sure to use it and the feedback provided to you by your instructor as you construct your final paper. As a reminder, you can access your feedback through Waypoint directly.

1. Identification of Topic:

In a representative democracy, voting gives citizens our voice in government.  It is the power to choose the leaders, to ratify or reject state or federal constitutional amendments, approve or deny bonds, tax changes, and many other questions that affect our lives so voting is the most important right in the United States.  The following topics all address voting in the United States in some way. Choose ONE topic from the list below to examine in your final paper.

  • Motivating Voters
  • Non-Voters
  • Uninformed Voters
  • Expansion of Suffrage
  • Suffrage for Convicted Felons
  • Voting Fraud
Which topic have you chosen?Motivating Voters

 2. Subtopics

Once you have selected your topic, next choose three specific subtopics that relate to your topic that you plan to discuss in your final paper. These subtopics will be referenced by the prompt that aligns to your topic.

.  For example:

Motivating Voters—Examine strategies for motivating voters. Discuss at least three strategies that special interest groups or political candidates can use to motivate their voters and get them to the polls.  Explain the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy?

In the above prompt, the subtopics that should be used for this assignment correspond to “three strategies that special interest groups or political candidates can use to motivate voters and get them to the polls.”  Accordingly, each of the three different strategies will be a subtopic.

It is recommended that you complete some research before attempting to complete this part of the assignment. If you are having trouble completing this form or have questions, be sure to contact your instructor.

Complete the form below for each subtopic. Where noted, please identify your subtopic.  Then, within each text box, discuss the following:

  1. How is this subtopic related to the topic that you chose?
  2. How is the subtopic related to voting?
  3. Who is affected/involved with or by this subtopic?
  4. What circumstances contributed to the subtopic?
  5. How does this subtopic affect voting for those individuals involved?

Subtopic 1:  Campaign Contact

A candidate’s campaign or a group that supports the candidate can contact eligible voters to motivate them or persuade them to vote for the candidate. The strategy is associated with the topic of ‘motivating voters’, and based on the findings by Krogstad & Noe-Bustamante (2021) concerning the 2020 election, a candidate’s campaign had contacted approximately nine in ten adults who voted. The parties involved with the strategy are political candidates and special interest groups. The voters are the party that was impacted. Contacting voters is advantageous because it keeps them engaged, mobilizes them, and informs them about a political campaign. However, its limitation is that it is difficult to measure whether messages reach the intended voters when email or SMS (short message service) are the means used to contact the voter.

Subtopic 2:  Digital and Traditional Organizing

To motivate eligible voters to visit polls and vote for a political candidate, it is essential to hire organizers of a campaign that attracts volunteers and keeps voters engaged with the campaign’s message. Digital organizing has gained popularity over the traditional approach in mobilizing and informing voters (McGuire, 2018). The parties affected by the strategy are voters, and those involved are progressive activists, political candidates, special interest groups, and volunteers. The effect of digital organizing on political candidates is that their campaign incurs fewer expenses in activities associated with collecting signatures, securing funding through donations, hiring volunteers, and encouraging voters to support a specific candidate (McGuire, 2018). The strategy is advantageous because more people can be reached fast while incurring few expenses. However, digital organizing might reach out to many people when executed alone but fail to keep them engaged. That is why it should be executed together with traditional organizing.

Subtopic 3: Citizen-initiated Campaigning

Due to advancements in digital technology, social media platforms are relied on by citizens to generate conversations concerning political candidates and their campaigns. As opposed to traditional campaigns that professionalized campaign organizing, the new dynamics are characterized by non-professionalized campaigning through a peer-to-peer conglomeration of the general public (Gil de Zúñiga et al., 2020). The strategy is related to motivating voters because citizens can post content on social media that reaches out to many eligible voters and persuades them to visit polls and vote for a specific candidate. The party involved with the strategy is citizens and the parties impacted are political candidates and special interest groups. The strategy is advantageous because citizens become actively involved in a political campaign and can influence their peers to support a candidate. However, it is essential to have a professional intervention to enhance how a campaign is organized.

3. Sources

For this assignment, you are required to provide one non-scholarly credible source and two scholarly, peer-reviewed sources; you will need to use an additional scholarly source for your final. You should choose sources that address the prompt for the topic that you chose, especially the subtopics that you outlined above. Provide APA-formatted references and annotations for your sources in the space below.

Please remember that you have been provided with a required non-scholarly credible source and two scholarly peer-reviewed sources that you may use for each topic 

Non-Scholarly Credible Sources:

Non-scholarly credible sources are sources like articles that you can find published by newspapers, magazines, polling organizations, think tanks, or other organizations.  They are not scholarly or peer reviewed so it is important that you carefully consider if they are credible.  Each non-scholarly source must pass the CRAAPO test to be used in this assignment and in your final paper. For this assignment, your non-scholarly, credible source has been selected for you; it is the source listed as “required” in the Final Paper Topic Handout, and is from the Pew Research Center.  You may use additional non-scholarly credible sources when you write your final, but you need to make sure to use the required source listed in the handout.

APA Citation for Non-Scholarly Credible Source 1:

Provide the APA citation for your source. Here are some examples of APA citations.

Krogstad, J. M., & Noe-Bustamante, L. (2021, January 29). Most US citizens report a campaign contacted them in 2020, but Latinos and Asians less likely to say so. Pew Research Center.  

Annotation for Non-Scholarly Credible Source 1:

In your own words, provide an annotation explaining what the source is, where it came from, what this source can tell us about your topic, what information this source provides that will help you address the final paper prompt, and how this source will help you prove your thesis.  Be sure to provide specific information in your annotation. Here are some examples of annotations.

Krogstad and Noe-Bustamante provide an article reporting on the findings from a Pew Research Center survey that sought to determine how political campaigns contacted eligible citizens to encourage them to vote for their candidate. The survey provides statistics concerning the medium used to contact U.S. citizens in 2020 and how the rates of such contacts varied based on race, gender, age, and level of education. In addition, the article can show the strategies used by politicians to motivate voters. Its relevance to voter motivation is evident in the inclusion of several ways of contacting voters and the provision of statistics showing each approach’s effectiveness. The article’s information can help prove the thesis in the final paper because accurate and reliable statistics will justify the effectiveness of different strategies for motivating voters.

Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Sources

Scholarly sources are peer-reviewed article written by professional researchers.  You will need to provide two scholarly articles for this assignment, and you will need to identify an additional one for your final for a total of three. You may use one or both of the scholarly articles that have been provided for you with the final paper prompt that you have chosen or you may choose to locate other scholarly articles.  You may find the How to Read a Scholarly Article tutorial helpful.  If you are having trouble completing this form or have questions, be sure to contact your instructor.

APA Citation for Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Source 1:

Provide the APA citation for your source. Here are some examples of APA citations.

McGuire, B. (2018). Political Organizing in the Digital Age: Why Campaigns Need to Integrate Traditional and Digital Organizing. Harvard Kennedy School Review, 18, 25–33.   

Annotation for Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Source 1:

In your own words, provide an annotation explaining what the source can tell you about your topic, what author’s thesis is, the evidence they use, and how this source will help you address the final paper prompt.  Be sure to provide specific information in your annotations. Here are some examples of annotations.

McGuire writes an essay that explores the opportunities and challenges in digital organizing. The author gives a brief history concerning the influence of digital tools on the organizing world and identifies some lessons from recent digital campaigns. Based on the information acquired from recent political campaigns and secondary research, McGuire supports an integrated approach that relies on the speed and scale of digital tools. The essay will help address the prompts of the final paper because its arguments show how voters can be motivated to visit polls and vote for a candidate. The author identifies ways digital tools can enhance campaign organizing and increase voter engagement. Effective voter engagement can motivate them to participate in political campaigns and vote for candidates.

APA Citation for Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Source 2:

Gil de Zúñiga, H., Roemmele, A., & Gibson, R. (2020). Scientific and subversive: The two faces of the fourth era of political campaigningNew Media & Society22(4), 595–610. DOI:10.1177/1461444819893979

Annotation for Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Source 2:

Gil de Zúñiga, Roemmele, & Gibson write an article focusing on “data-driven” political campaigning and the phases democracies have gone through. The authors assert that in modern society, democracies are entering a fourth phase that manifests major shifts in practice. Four new practices characterize the new phase. Dependence on networked communication is one practice. The campaign sphere is becoming internationalized. Political campaigns engage in individualized micro-targeting of their messages. The final practice is the strategic and organizational reliance on “big data” and digital technology. The article’s content will be helpful in the final paper because practices such as individualized micro-targeting that political campaigners are engaging in can motivate voters. The article shows that practices in the fourth phase of political campaigning introduce new strategies for keeping voters engaged and motivating them to vote for a candidate.  

4. Introduction and Thesis Statement

Provide an introduction and thesis statement for your final paper. An introduction introduces your topic and approach. A thesis is a sentence length statement of the main idea of your paper. A good introduction and thesis should be informed by the findings of your sources, and your analysis of the ways in which those findings apply to the final paper prompt.

In addition, your thesis should help you organize your paper. Each of the subtopics you have chosen to examine should be incorporated into your thesis, and the order in which you mention these subtopics should be the order in which you examine these subtopics in your paper.

Example thesis: The Progressive movement reached its zenith in the early 1900s, demonstrated by the popularity of muckraking literature, the ratification of new Constitutional amendments, and the political platforms of presidential candidates in the 1912 election.

In this case, the three subtopics that would be explored are:

  1. Muckraking literature
  2. Progressive Constitutional amendments
  3. The political platforms of presidential candidates in the 1912 election

 For more information about thesis statements, consult the UAGC Writing Center’s Thesis Statement Tutorial and UAGC AEC How To Write a Thesis video.   

Draft of Introduction and thesis:

  Political candidates and special interest groups recognize that mobilizing and informing voters can persuade citizens to vote for a candidate. Digital tools have changed the campaign sphere because practices such as traditional organization are losing popularity to digital organizing. The involved parties need to recognize emerging trends in political campaigning and adopt effective strategies to motivate voters. Key strategies that motivate voters are campaign contact, digital and traditional organizing, and citizen-initiated campaigning.

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