This curated collection of resources on voting and elections contains resources for elementary, middle and high schools. For a complete list from the CRN members, go here.
Who Elects Our Senators?
United States senators have been elected directly by voters since 1913. Prior to that time, state legislatures chose the state’s senators. In the mid-1850s, however, the state legislature selection process began to fail due to political infighting and corruption. Often Senate seats were left vacant for long periods of time while state legislatures debated who to send to the Senate. Grades 9-12. U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
A game where students run two separate campaigns; one for an electoral victory and one for a popular vote victory. The candidates spend “campaign promises” to influence the outcome of the election. Grades 6-12. Civics 101 Podcast
The right of a citizen to vote is not directly protected in the Constitution, and throughout our history that right has often been granted to some, but denied to others. However, through various amendments to the Constitution, the right to vote has become more and more inclusive. Uncover the battle for voting rights in the National Constitution Center’s learning module. Grades 5-12. National Constitution Center
Cast Your Vote
What issues do you want to ask candidates about? In Cast Your Vote, you choose the questions in a debate, rate their responses, and vote for the candidate of your choice. Grades 6-8. iCivics
Civics in Real Life: Sedition
Protest has a long history in the United States, especially in the U.S. Capital. Citizens have taken to the streets to express their disagreements with the actions or policies of the government. Whether it is advocating for civil rights, expressing opposition to abortion rights, or demonstrating support or opposition to a political candidate, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees individuals the right to free speech, as well as the rights to peaceable assembly and to petition the government. Together, these add up to peaceful protest. But there may be times where protest becomes unlawful and slips over the line into sedition.
Other relevant Civics in Real Life lessons: Inching Toward Inauguation; Presidential Transition; Electoral College; Consent of the Governed. Grades 6-12. Florida Joint Center for Citizenship.
Lesson Plan: The Twenty-fifth Amendment
This eLesson will provide students with an opportunity to learn about the text of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment as well as its historical usage and potential need. It will ask them to consider why such an Amendment was deemed necessary and how it has been, and could be, used. It will also give students the opportunity to debate possible applications of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment. Grades 9-12. Bill of Rights Institute
The 19th Amendment: A Woman’s Right to Vote
Voting is the most basic right of a citizen and the most important right in a democracy. When you vote, you are choosing the people who will make the laws. For almost a century and a half of our nation’s history, women were barred from exercising this fundamental right. This is a film about their long, difficult struggle to win the right to vote. It’s about citizenship, the power of the vote, and why women had to change the Constitution with the 19th Amendment to get the vote. Grades 7-12. Annenberg Classroom
Presidential Transitions: This lesson has students explore the challenges that incoming administrations face during presidential transitions. Students will hear from historians and from White House staff to learn about previous presidential transitions and how the administrations worked together. With this information, students will develop a list of best practices that can be used during these transitions. Grades 9-12. C-SPAN Classroom.
The History of Contested Presidential Elections: This lesson looks at the contested presidential elections occurring in 1800, 1824, 1876 and 2000. Using C-SPAN video clips, students will identify how each election was resolved and the consequences of these elections. They will apply this knowledge by describing similarities and differences between these examples and determining what lessons can be learned from these elections. Grades 7-12. C-SPAN Classroom.
Election 2020: Timeline of SCOTUS Cases
This timeline tracks 2020 election-related litigation at the Supreme Court. It includes: a brief summary of what happened at the Court; student-friendly case background description; (potential) impact on voters; “Questions to Consider” to guide student analysis of the information in the timeline; links to more information on SCOTUSblog. This resource will be updated as needed, so please check back and be sure you have the most recent version downloaded. Grades 8-12. Street Law.
Election Day to Inauguration Day: What Happens in Those 78 Days?
This resource distills key facts and dates into a one-page timeline graphic. It also includes a longer accompanying document detailing what will happen (and what could happen) between Election Day 2020 and Inauguration Day 2021. Grades 8-12. Street Law.
Election of 1800
In this activity, students will analyze the Electoral College tally for the presidential election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Grades 5-8. DocsTeach.org
Flaws of the Electoral College System
In this activity, students will trace the history of the Electoral College through analysis of primary source documents from the elections of 1789, 1800, 1824, and 1988 to identify four flaws with the system. An examination of proposed and implemented reforms, including the 12th Amendment, will engage students in a discussion of modifying or abolishing the Electoral College. Grades 8-12. DocsTeach.org
The Electoral College Process
In this activity, students will learn the steps in the Electoral College process, from Election Day to Inauguration Day. They will analyze historical primary sources from various Presidential elections, each representing a different step in the process, and arrange them in the correct sequence. Grades 8-12. DocsTeach.org
Voting by Mail
Because of concerns over COVID-19, many states may ask people to vote by mail this year. Are your students ready to vote on Election Day 2020? Let students see what a mail-in ballot process is like, and discover the advantages and disadvantages of mail-in elections. Go to iCivics’ Election Headquarters for more resources. Grades 6-12.
Presenting Political Parties
Using the political cartoons of Clifford Berryman, this lesson, developed in collaboration with the National Archives, has students consider the impact of political parties on politics, government, lawmaking, and voters. Grades 6-12. Florida Joint Center on Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute
Political Ideology in America: Bumper Sticker Politics
Americans love to personalize their vehicles. This lesson explores political ideology by analyzing data on automobile purchases and bumper stickers. Students will learn generalizations about conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans, libertarians and socialists and appreciate the American custom of advertising political thought in public. Free registration required to access this lesson. Grades 6-12. Youth Leadership Initiative
Should Our State Require Photo ID for In-Person Voting?
The right to vote is a basic right, protected by the Constitution. But there are limits to this right, and states can establish reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner of voting. This deliberation lesson sets up the question of whether states should require a photo ID to vote. Grades 9-12. Street Law
Presidential Campaign Memorabilia on DocsTeach
This page includes primary sources in the form of artifacts, photographs, documents, and more as well as additional online resources. Themes highlight political memorabilia from presidential campaigns from the 1850s through the 1990s. Grades K-12. National Archives’ DocsTeach
Voting: What is it and does it matter?
This short activity is designed to introduce students to the concept of voting and its importance to American citizenship. Materials are also available in Spanish. Free registration required to access this lesson. Grades 2-5. Youth Leadership Initiative
Getting Counted: Is the System Fair?
Throughout U.S. history, Americans have silently stewed and actively protested that presidential elections are unfair and fixed against them. Do they have a point? In this lesson, students will understand why people are critical of the political process and will explore the topic “Do all voters have an equal voice in American democracy?” Grades 6-10. NewseumED
One Person, One Vote
In this documentary, Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen G. Breyer and other experts discuss how the principle of one person, one vote emerged from a series of landmark decisions, including Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims. Grades 6-12. Annenberg Classroom
Election Central helps teachers and students explore the electoral process past and present, in the United States and around the world. Readings and activities provide historical background and raise issues related to the electoral process. Resources are arranged under four categories: Issues for the Election, U.S. History, World History, Government. Grades 9-12. Constitutional Rights Foundation
Voting Rights Lesson Plan
Explore the evolution of voting rights in the United States through an interactive PowerPoint presentation highlighting landmark changes. Following the presentation and class discussion, students apply the new knowledge of voting legislation to individual scenarios through a class activity. This lesson is one in a series called “Civil Rights.” Grades 8-12. iCivics
Win the White House
Students take on the role of a presidential candidate from the primary season all the way through to the general election. The player strategically manages time and resources to gain control of as many electoral votes as possible over a 10-week campaign. This can only be done by effectively communicating his or her position on issues, and mastering media and public appearances. Grades 8-12. iCivics
Redistricting and Gerrymandering
In this lesson, students will learn how state legislatures and governors can manipulate the redistricting process to gain an advantage for their party in the U.S. House and state legislatures. Students will role-play state legislators and collaborate to draw both gerrymandered and not-gerrymandered districts. Grades 9-12. Street Law
Deliberation Materials: Compulsory Voting
Should voting be compulsory in the United States? This activity includes a deliberation reading and glossary as well as handouts to guide students through the deliberation process from planning to reflection. Grades 9-12. Street Law
Electoral College Classroom Materials
Find classroom materials for teaching about the Electoral College: The big questions; 30-minutes class videos; Constitution Daily blog posts; Article II resources; tools for civil discourse; podcasts; scholar exchanges. Grades 6-12. National Constitution Center.