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Electronic Democracy Project II (Advocacy Websites)

Page history last edited by sandra jamieson 15 years, 1 month ago

Electronic Democracy Project: The topic of voting  (advocacy analysis)


Monday, Nov. 10: Final draft of paper due in class - PRINTED OUT

Friday, Oct 31: analysis of advocacy websites and selection of site for further analysis
Monday, Nov 3: one page outline for advocacy website analysis due in class (printed out)
Wednesday, Nov 5: draft of paper #5 due in k:drive project 5 folder by the beginning of class
Friday, Nov 7: revised draft due in k:drive project 5 folder by the beginning of class


The Internet provides a wealth of information and if we know how to evaluate what we find it can provide us with knowledge unimagined even 15 years ago. It also offers previously unimagined opportunity for advocacy as junk mail and issue-orientated web sites contest for space. As part of the move to persuade citizens under the age of 25 to vote, many new websites have been developed in the last few years. Some of these sites aim just to register and inform voters, but others also try to persuade voters to vote in a specific way.


This paper invites you to select a voter-advocacy website and consider the ways it tries to appeal to younger voters of a particular kind. You will analyze the audience the site seems to be aiming to reach, and make an argument about the effectiveness of the site as an advocacy site (a website designed to achieve a specific goal or advocate a specific position) for that specific audience focusing on whether or not you think the site will actually appeal to that audience. Sample websites are listed below. 



The paper


Select one of the advocacy sites below and imagine yourself a first-time voter who doesn't know much about the issues that are important in this upcoming election. How well might the site help you decide to vote?  The first step is to get your attention so you will explore the site and see what it has to offer. Then it has to deliver the information you want in a way that makes you pay attention. Finally, it has to make you want to register to vote (and tell you how to do it)--and it has to inspire you sufficiently that you will go out and vote on Tuesday. 


Outline and planning


Unlike the other papers you have written, in this one I want you to evaluate the websites and then make a decision about whether one of them is effective or not and list the reasons why. You may find it helpful to use the outline listed below to evaluate the site. You will need to expand this a little. Look at the things I listed under I (a, b, c, etc). You need to make lists like that for yourself for items II and III of the outline. Use what you find to help you make these lists. Aim to have a minimum of three points under each one (a, b, c).

As you answer the questions and list information you will develop the knowledge you need to write a thesis. Once you have a thesis you can check over and revise your outline, and finally you can use the revised outline to help you write a draft of a paper. Here you should be drawing on the skills you developed with the revising outline, but now I want you to outline after you have thought about the topic but before writing a draft--just try it once to see how it works for you.

A full one page outline including specific examples is due in class on Monday, November 3

A draft is due wednesday, but smart students will probably start it this weekend!


Your thesis:

This website is / is not an effective youth advocacy website because . . .


The Outline:

I- How well does the site get your attention?

     i) design: Is the layout appealing? List the things you find appealing or not (and include 2 or 3 specific examples of each)

         a) color

         b) graphics

         c) sound/music

         d) visual layout (is it "busy" or appealing)?

         e) design features (repetition, themes, shapes, etc)

     ii) layout: Can you find your way around the site? List specific examples of where the site is or is not easy to navigate

         a) links (are they easy to find? where you expect them to be?)

         b) logic (is the material laid out in a way that makes sense to you?)

         c) predictability (how well can you guess/predict where information will be?)

         d) site design (how easy is it to find your way to different pages and back again without using the back arrow on your browser?)

     iii) audience: how well dos this site appeal to the target audience? Again, list specific examples

         a) specific appeals (items included on the site to appeal to this particular group)

         b) text (quantity of written information, font, size of text)

         c) cross-over details (any other features that might appeal to a broader audience)

II- How effective is this site as a voter education site?

     i) Content: Does the site include enough information about the candidates to get your interest? List examples

         a) does the site exaplin why the economy might be an issue for voters? what does it say? (summarize)

         b) does the site exaplin why education might be an issue for voters? what does it say? (summarize)

         c) does the site exaplin why the war might be an issue for voters? what does it say? (summarize)

         d) does the site exaplin why healthcare might be an issue for voters? what does it say? (summarize)

         e) create your own list  . . .

     ii) Context: Does the site include enough information on the issues and topic to get your interest? List examples

         a) the way the site focuses on xxxxxxx makes me realize how important it is . . . etc




     iii) Ideology: Is this site biased? Is it fair? List examples of fair/unfair or biased/objective





     iv) Advocacy: does the site make you want to vote? List examples of how it does/doesn't do that





     v) Basics:

         a) Is there a link to a voter registration site? how easy is it to find?

         b) does it tell you deadlines for registering, submitting absentee ballots, etc? How easy is it to find?

         c) does it help you find out who will be running in your district? how easy is it to find that?

         d) does it provide other voter information?

III - How effective is the site as a motivator? (Doing something increases engagement and may make you more likely to take further action, such as voting and/or talking about the election with others)

     i) Does it make you want to go out and vote? List specific examples of where it does or does not

     ii) Does it ask you to do anything, such as send emails or register for more information?

     iii) Anything else?


The websites


List of advocacy websites - use one of these six sites for your paper
Rock the Vote  
Hip Hop Summit  
Black Youth Vote (Coalition of Black Civic Participation)  
National Youth Advocacy Coalition  
 Vote 18  


Voter Education and registration (additional information)

Candidate Calculator


Voter registration websites
Declare Yourself  
Just Vote  
Voto Latino  
I Vote, You Vote  
Head Count  
League of Women Voters  




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