Voting Rights and the U.S. Constitution
As we approach this mid-term election, it’s important for students to keep in mind the responsibility they have as citizens to be informed and — if they are old enough — to vote for the candidate that they believe will best work on their behalf toward ensuring the common good. Elections can be a divisive time, but they are also a time where we come together to celebrate the beauty of democracy and to express our opinions through the vote. Voting is an expression of individual liberty and ought to happen freely, without coercion or intimidation. Sadly that has not always been the case in the United States. This lesson walks students through how individual liberty has been more fully realized through the expansion of the franchise.
- Students will understand the importance of voting and how hard individuals have fought to have their voice heard.
- Students will understand that voting is one of the major ways in which citizens can express themselves and THE method by which “We the People” control our government.
- Handout B: Background Essay: Voting Rights Amendments
- Handout C: The Suffrage Amendments
- Handout D: Alice Paul
- Handouts C-D Answer Key
Have students read Handout B: Background Essay: Voting Rights Amendments and Handout C: The Suffrage Amendments and then discuss the history of voting in the United States and how it affected individual liberty. Then have students read Handout D: Alice Paul and discuss the struggles of the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Finally, as a homework project, have students choose other actors in suffrage movements throughout American history and develop a multi-media presentation.
View the full activity:
Additional Election and Voting Resources:
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Stand for Justice
- Alice Paul’s Perseverance for the Vote
- Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers: Diligently Crossing the Bridge
- Debating Voter ID Laws
- Too Young to Vote, but Not to March: Lessons in Youth Civic Engagement