13. Sample Plan for the "Analyze an Argument" Essay

Sample "Analyze an Argument" Essay

When planning essays on a timed test, I usually develop my claim, outline the body paragraphs, and then start writing ...

:  To make this argument's claim reasonable, this author not only needs to provide evidence that low voter turnout makes Millhaven undemocratic, but he/she also needs to prove that required voting will restore democracy to the town.

I.  Author needs to prove that a low voter turnout rate makes Millhaven undemocratic

A.  Assumes voter turnout rate from one election represents all elections
1.  Author needs to study the voter turnout rate for more than one past election
2.  If voter turnout rate remains low or decreases, the author has identified a problem
3.  If voter turnout rate is average or above-average, the data on this election is an outlier

B.  Assumes that voters do not represent a cross-section of the population, but an elite group
1.  Author also needs to prove that those who voted were from a privileged group in order to compare the town to an aristocracy
2.  If so, author can argue that the voters represent a select group of people
3.  If not, statement is unfounded

II.  Author needs to prove that the low turnout rate was due to the sentiments of eligible voters, not other causes

A.  Assumes that eligible voters did not participate due to indifference or disagreement with the issues/candidates/process

1.  Author needs to conduct a survey or poll to determine why voters did not participate in the last election
2.  Author needs to consider alternative explanations
i.   Election held on inconvenient date?
ii.  Lack of publicity?
3.  If author can rule out alternative explanations and consider other elections, the stated causes of the low voter turnout rate would be acceptable

III.  Author needs to prove that mandatory voting could restore democracy to the town

A.  Faulty Comparison: Jury selection process compared to mandatory voting
1.  Juries are made up of a select group of people
a.  Those who will most likely be unbiased are chosen, and others are dismissed
b.  Selecting the most unbiased candidates to serve on a jury does not support the idea of mandatory voting 

B.  Weak Supporting Detail: half of a line from Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address"
1.  Does not provide context for speech
2.  Does not clearly explain how this quote supports the author's argument
3.  More than half of U.S. residents not allowed to vote at this time

IV.  Conclusion: Author's own conclusion cannot be accepted until he/she provides more evidence for it

A.  Review main ideas of each body paragraph
1.   Need to gather relevant data on more than one election
2.   Need to rule out alternative explanations for low voter turnout
3.   Prove that mandatory democracy will make Millhaven more democratic
B.  The Kicker:  (What should the reader take away from this essay?)  More research should show readers whether mandatory voting would restore democracy or ruin it.