The original Constitution did not specifically protect the right to vote—leaving the issue largely to the states. For much of American history, this right has often been granted to some, but denied to others; however, through a series of amendments to the Constitution, the right to vote has expanded over time. These amendments have protected the voting rights of new groups, including by banning discrimination at the ballot box based on race (15th Amendment) and sex (19th Amendment). They also granted Congress new power to enforce these constitutional guarantees, which Congress has used to pass landmark statutes like the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While state governments continue to play a central role in elections today, these new amendments carved out a new—and important—role for the national government in this important area.
Campaign 2022: Midterm Elections
Check out the website Campaign 2022: Midterm Elections to help you learn more about the upcoming midterm elections! For more information on C-SPAN Classroom or for additional educational resources for your classroom, please visit the C-SPAN Classroom website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Midterm Election Series
Civics 101 Podcast has partnered with Retro Report to create a series to prepare students and educators for the 2022 midterm elections. The series includes six podcasts and links to associated resources, as well as links to videos and lesson plans from Retro Report on historic midterms (1966 and 1994) in addition to activities on gerrymandering, realignment, everything you could possibly want that is midterm-related. Here is a link to Retro Report’s complete midterm collection.
These podcasts and videos can be used in class, on a walk, or at home. Each podcast comes with a transcript and graphic organizer for students to write on while listening.
Bell Ringer: How Electoral Votes Are Counted
Brookings Institution Governance Studies Senior Fellow Molly Reynolds talks about the Electoral Count Act of 1887, the current law for how electoral votes get counted after a presidential election. She explains reform efforts and the role of the vice president of the U.S. in the electoral count.
History of Political Polling in the United States
This lesson features the history of political polling in the United States going back to the 19th century and the development and use of polling since then.
The process of redistricting, or redrawing congressional and state legislative boundaries, often becomes politicized. Drawing district lines to create partisan advantages and disadvantages is a tactic known as gerrymandering. Examine interactive resources to explore how changing district lines can affect the balance of partisan power, and evaluate criteria for drawing district lines.
Reapportionment and Redistricting
The United States conducts a constitutionally mandated census every 10 years. This count has numerous effects, and one of the most important is its impact on our representative democracy. Reapportionment and redistricting, in turn, affect how and by whom the people are represented.
The Battle for Votes: Gerrymandering
Every decade, states engage in redistricting – the redrawing of congressional and state legislative boundaries – after the release of new census data. This process often becomes politicized, with district lines drawn to create partisan advantages and disadvantages, a tactic known as gerrymandering.
Monthly Civics Themes
The Rendell Center has developed monthly themes designed to build basic civic knowledge, promote civic engagement, and provide practice in democratic deliberation. Each month offers an experiential learning opportunity for K-12 students to examine and discuss a new civics topic, with questions and activities designed to help them better understand the concept.
Just Vote: Youth Registration Campaign
This lesson supports young people as they design, create, and implement their own voter preregistration campaigns. Students will consider some reflection questions, learn more about voting as they consider what to include in their campaigns, study examples of past voter registration campaigns, and apply what they’ve learned to create campaigns that engage current and future voters to participate in the democratic process. First, help students reflect on the role of voting in the democratic process, using questions that connect to their prior knowledge about voting. Then, through the series of worksheets that follow, have students learn relevant vocabulary, analyze challenges voters face today, examine past successful voting campaigns, and create their new campaigns. After students launch their campaigns, consider creating a way for the class to track their success as a group.