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As suggested earlier, money can carry a lot of influence in U.S. democracy. But there are other means to make one’s voice heard. Free speech can be influential, and people can participate in the democratic system through volunteering with political advocacy groups, writing to elected officials, sharing views in a public forum such as a blog or letter to the editor, forming or joining cause-related political organizations and interest groups, participating in public demonstrations, and even running for a local office.

The judicial system

The third branch of the U.S. government is the judicial system, which consists of local, state, and federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States, and it has the final say on decisions about the constitutionality of laws that citizens challenge. As noted earlier, some rulings have a direct impact on the political system, such as recent decisions about voter identification and campaign financing. Other Supreme Court decisions affect different aspects of society, and they are useful for sociological study because they help us understand cultural changes. One example is a recent and highly controversial case that dealt with the religious opposition of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. to providing employees with specific kinds of insurance mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Another example is same-sex marriage cases, which were expected to be heard by the Court; however, the Court denied review of these cases in the fall of 2014. For now, the rulings of federal district courts stand, and states can continue to have differing outcomes on same-sex marriage for their citizens.

Summary

The success and validity of U.S. democracy hinges on free, fair elections that are characterized by the support and participation of diverse citizens. In spite of their importance, elections have low participation. In the past, the voice of minority groups was nearly imperceptible in elections, but recent trends have shown increased voter turnout across many minority races and ethnicities. In the past, the creation and sustenance of a fair voting process has necessitated government intervention, particularly on the legislative level. The Reynolds v. Sims case, with its landmark “one person, one vote” ruling, is an excellent example of such action.

Short answer

If the percentage of Asian Americans in Congress is far below the percentage of Asian Americans in the United States, does that mean Asian Americans lack political power? Why or why not?

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Explain how a voter’s social class can affect his or her voting practices.

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Besides voting, how can U.S. citizens influence political processes and outcomes? Which of these strategies have you personally used?

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Further research

The 1965 Voting Rights Act was preceded by Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Both articles were instrumental in establishing equal rights for African Americans. Check out Cornell University’s website on this topic to learn more about this civil rights legislation: (External Link)

References

Bingham, Amy. 2012. “Voter Fraud: Non-Existent Problem or Election-Threatening Epidemic?” ABC News, September 12. Retrieved October 2, 2014 ( (External Link) )

Cooper, Michael. 2013. “After Ruling, States Rush to Enact Voting Laws” The New York Times , July 5. Retrieved October 1, 2014 ( (External Link)&_r=0 )

Dinan, Stephen. 2013. “Supreme Court Says Voting Rights Act of 1965 is No Longer Relevant” The Washington Times , June 25. Retrieved October 1, 2014 ( (External Link) )

IT Chicago-Kent School of Law. 2014. U.S. Supreme Court Media OYEZ . Retrieved October 7, 2014 ( (External Link) )

Lopez, Mark Hugo and Paul Taylor. 2009. “Dissecting the 2008 Electorate: the Most Diverse in U.S. History.” Pew Research Center. April 30. Retrieved April 24, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Raymond, Jose. 2010. “Why Poor People Don’t Vote.” Change.org, June 6. Retrieved February 17, 2012.

United States Elections Project. 2010. “2008 General Election Turnout Rates.” October 6. Retrieved February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

United States Elections Project. 2011. “2010 General Election Turnout Rates.” December 12. Retrieved February 14, 2012 ( (External Link) ).

Questions & Answers

Explain the importance of beliefs or a note of Beliefs.
Shuvhe Reply
sociological lmagination
Kelley Reply
what is gender studies
Muhammad Reply
origin and development of sociology
Rakshita Reply
what's to join
Prisca
What is gender studies
Muhammad
it means either of the two sexes (Male /female)
Prisca
thanks bro
Muhammad
thank u
Rakshita
gender studies is the study of the roles that men and women play in our society ...how those roles have been shaped..what factors have influenced them ...and their pros and cons etc
Babar
is sociology similar to political science
connect
hey guys iam a new member of this community can u tell me exactly what sociology is to be real I don't know anything about it iam interested to learn
connect
sociology is the study of social life...society, culture, social changes etc
Babar
the study of human behaviour and how interact with each other
Kimoya
what is Becker 1963
Karen Reply
sociology kisse mil ker bna hai
Poonam Reply
"Logy" means study n "social" is society.
Reemiya
Socius and logos
Silent
waah Raj
Rishit
Definition of sociology
Shashi Reply
sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.
Sunny
as the implies it is the study of both sex in the environment
Philip
sociology is is the study of human behavior
Muhammad
sociology is the science of society
Rehana
what is culture
Anuman Reply
To me what culture is what you grow up with in your family. What are some of the customs and ritual that you follow. Your parent maybe born in there country, while u are born in the United States. You can clash both cultures together or identity yourself more with one than the other.
Josephine
There are people who follow there culture like a book and there are people who don't follow there cultural as much.
Josephine
culture is what makes you more like your environ and imprison your thought process.
Noor
how a researcher can conduct his theoretical framework
AMINU Reply
what are the major ways that are use to prevent our youth from drug abuse
AMINU Reply
1.keep them engaged in positive activities like study,sports. 2.Provide them jobs. 3.Married people are less inclined towards drug as they have to shoulder family responsibility. 4.Law system also need to play their role to control drug mafias. 5.rehabilitation centers for drug abused should be ther
deepak
would love to know others thought on this
deepak
keep them engaged in positive activities
Rizwana
implement the Law is one and forcing the law is two, which is the weak point of the government to stop drug abuse.
Pupa
tackling corruption, poverty and illiteracy is very essential
Farous
how does poverty have an impact on drug abuse. In my opinion, I think if you don't have money to eat how do you get money for drugs.
Eunice
Characteristics of culture
Yusuf Reply
.
deepak
hhhhhh
Yusuf
?
Rizwana
How has sociologists views shaped the way we think of society today?
seba Reply
why sociological imagination called sociological lens?
Crisel Reply
since the views of sociology derive from the minds of those who think as they do, this is called the sociological lens. Our imagination is only limited to how we think and we perceive things as a result of thinking vigorously. A sociological imagination focuses on the depth of a concept or idea...
seba
I agree what seba said.
Josephine
what are the measures that are used to cure and prevent our society from repping
AMINU Reply
what is Hawthorne effect
Karen Reply
It is when the respondent is influenced by the researcher For example the respondent might lie to impress the researcher thus Hawthorne effect is include
Soumeyrah

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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