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 email@example.com.
Most Despised U.S. Presidents
This lesson explores why five U.S. presidents were hated by groups of Americans, including Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon. Students will explore materials from C-SPAN’s Presidential Survey and engage in a choice board activity. The lesson culminates with students reflecting on how presidents have been criticized historically and in contemporary times and offers two extension activities.
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.
Voting Rights Marches in Selma
In March of 1965, civil rights activists and religious leaders marched from Selma to Montgomery to demand African Americans be given the right to vote. In this lesson, students will hear about the factors that contributed to the marches that occurred in Selma as well as visit key locations in the area and view archived video of the events that unfolded.
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.
Bell Ringer: Landmark Legislation: Americans with Disabilities Act
Former Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and disability rights activist Judy Heumann talk about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which Harkin authored and co-sponsored, and the legislation’s impact on lives of Americans with disabilities, the small-business community, and education.
Bell Ringer: Landmark Legislation: Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, talks about the creation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, reactions to the passage of this act, and some of the successes and challenges of the act.
Bell Ringer: Landmark Legislation: 2002 No Child Left Behind Law
Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute and Carolyn Heinrich, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, discuss the 2002 No Child Left Behind law, including what was included in the legislation, the impact, and legacy of the act.
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.