Do you think it's important for people to vote in every election? Why or why not?
According to the article, as people age their voting participation tends to increase. Why do you think that is?
Based on what you read in the article, how do you think the generational shift in voting power will reshape the political landscape of the United States in coming decades?
According to the article, some studies show that Millennials are more polarized in their beliefs than other generations, with more identifying with extremely conservative or extremely liberal positions. Why do you think that is? What do you think it means for the political landscape of the United States in the future?
- As a class, brainstorm a list of facts students know about elections. Ask questions to foster ideas. For example: What is an election? Why do people have elections? Who gets to vote during an election? What kinds of things do they vote for?
- Inform the class that during an election, people may choose a candidate or they may decide what to do about an issue. The ultimate goal of an election is for people to make a choice. But how people have done that and who has been allowed to participate hasn't always been the same.
- In small groups or with a partner, have students investigate the history of U.S. political elections. Instruct students to identify one or more ways these elections have changed over time. Challenge them to use what they learned to predict how elections could be different in the future.
- Give each student a piece of plain white paper. Have students fold their papers into thirds and label the sections "Past," "Present" and "Future." Instruct students to create their own "History of Elections" brochures to teach others what they learned about elections.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
This lavishly illustrated book explores democracy from the Revolution to the present using objects from the National Museum of American History. Examples include the portable writing box that Thomas Jefferson used while composing the Declaration of Independence, the inkstand with which Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, Susan B. Anthony's iconic red shawl, and many more. Not only famous voices are presented: like democracy itself, the book and the exhibition preserve the voice of the people by showcasing campaign materials, protest signs, and a host of other items from everyday life that reflect the promises and challenges of American democracy throughout the nation's history.
Use these resources from the National Museum of American to explore politics and voting with your students. Lessons cover everything from political comic books to an in-depth investigation of voting methods and machines.
America’s national treasures come to life in this Smithsonian History Explorer exhibition and accompanying teacher’s guide. Through objects such as Thomas Jefferson’s portable desk and the inkstand Lincoln used to draft the Emancipation Proclamation, students will explore the history of citizen participation, debate and compromise from the nation’s formation to today.
This lesson plan examines an 1898 Standard Voting Machine and the democratization of the voting process in the U .S. It includes an introduction to doing history with objects, three lesson plans on the history of voting, and annotated links related to the extension of voting rights to women and African Americans.
The Smithsonian has a massive collection of campaign materials dating from 1789. Read this Smithsonian article to learn why the objects reveal that little has changed in how Americans show affection for their candidates.
Seventy million people tuned in to watch America’s first televised presidential debate in 1960. They were met with a well-prepared, well-dressed JFK who outshone his opponent, Richard Nixon. Watch this video, courtesy of the Smithsonian Channel, to learn about the impact that had on the election.
Read this Smithsonian article to learn how a number of irrelevant factors—from a polling place’s location to a home sports team’s winning percentage—have been found to sway voters.