This course will consider the way law informs and regulates representation and participation in the political process. We will examine constitutional constraints on legislative apportionment, districting, the role of
political parties and access to the ballot. We will explore the relationship between democratic principles and the electoral participation of racial, language, and political minorities. We will study in depth the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, to understand how the law both shapes and has been shaped by social science research, political theory, historical forces, and practical considerations. We shall also consider issues of alternative election systems, the role of money in politics and the role of women in politics. There will be a take-home examination. Up to five students will be allowed to write papers in lieu of the exam. All students are eligible for extra credit for consistent and informed class participation. Class formats will include lecture, Socratic dialogue, small-group participation, guest speakers, and student facilitation. Enrollment is limited to 50 students. This is a 3 credit course. Constitutional Law is strongly recommended but is not a prerequisite for this course.