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
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Presidential Elections

The purpose of this lesson is to have students learn about each presidential election and presidential terms. Students will understand how various events in history shaped campaigns. Why elections were won and lost. What accomplishments and disappointments each president experienced. Each election and presidential term served had its own mark on history. The presentation to the class is the order of the elections starting with Washington’s first election and proceeding forward. The lesson plan was created to engage students in the election process and create interest in the coming presidential election.
Constituting America’s 90 Day Study of The Intrigue of Presidential Elections and Their Constitutional Impact is a resource guide for students. This study supplies many of the important facts and figures of each presidential campaign. There are also intriguing facts, stories, and information about the person, campaign, time in office and after the presidency.

Election: The Road to the White House (Secondary)

During an election, civic energy reaches a fever pitch. The vote is one of the citizen’s most powerful tools, and advocating for a candidate, a set of ideas, or a platform is the right of every citizen. The President of the United States is often called the most powerful person in the world, so with every presidential election, the stakes are high. This unit is designed to teach students about presidential elections. It is not a collection of facts, diagrams, and explanations of processes. It is an interactive, project-based unit that invites the student to fully engage in the process of an election while also informing students about how elections work. It is our hope that this unit helps cultivate the sorts of informed and engaged citizens that are so essential to our democracy.

Election: The Road to the White House (Elementary)

This unit is designed to teach students about presidential elections. It is not a collection of facts, diagrams, and explanations of processes. It is an interactive, project-based unit that invites the student to fully engage in the process of an election while also informing students about how elections work. It is our hope that this unit helps cultivate the sorts of informed and engaged citizens that are so essential to our democracy.

2020 Elections: Competitive Senate Races

This lesson has students look at recent polling and analysis to identify competitive Senate elections around the country. Included in this lesson are campaign ads and breakdowns of these competitive Senate races. Students will be able to identify pathways for both the Democrats and the Republicans to win majorities in the Senate and evaluate the likelihood of each. 

Grades 7-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Interactives

The Troubled Elections of 1796 and 1800

George Washington won the first two U.S. presidential elections without being challenged. When he decided not to run for a third term in 1796, intense rivalries, political disputes, and attempted manipulations of the Electoral College came into play. These factors would again affect the 1800 election, essentially a rematch of 1796, pitting a sitting president, John Adams, against his own vice president, Thomas Jefferson.

Grades 8, 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

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, 9-12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Primary Sources

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.

Grades 6-12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Lesson Plans