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140 min

Guiding Questions

  • Who should be involved in the election process?
  • Is the Electoral College a good idea?
  • How does the Constitution address voting rights?
  • Why is the right to vote essential to personal liberty?
  • Who was involved in expanding voting rights?
  • What role should corporations play in elections?


  • Students will evaluate Hamilton’s reasons for the establishment of the electoral college.
  • Students will analyze the constitutional expansion of voting rights.
  • Students will evaluate the role individual citizens played in expanding voting rights.
  • Students will trace the history of campaign finance reform.
  • Students will analyze the Supreme Court opinions in 2010 Citizens United v. FEC.

  • separation of powers
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Electoral College
  • popular sovereignty
  • founders
  • federalism
  • consent of the governed
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • John Adams
  • Constitution
  • Seventeenth Amendment
  • equality
  • republic
  • First Amendment
  • Framers

Have students read the Elections Essay.

Project an online 2020 Election Results Map for students to evaluate.

Ask the students, who is involved in the election process? Have students brainstorm a list in pairs and then share in a whole group discussion. Create a list on the board.

Possible answers may include

  • The people
  • The Electoral College
  • Political Parties
  • Government
  • Special Interest Groups
  • Corporations

Conclude by explaining that the students will now participate in a series of activities about the different groups of people who take part in the election process. Identify those groups from the list on the board: the electoral college, the people, and corporations.

Activity 1: A Constitutional Connection – the Electoral College [15 minutes]

  • Note: electoral college numbers for 2024 will be different from the numbers shown on Handout A map.

Distribute Handout A: A Constitutional Connection – The Electoral College

Have students read the document excerpts and answer the questions that follow.

Have students discuss their evaluation with a partner or in small groups.

Conclude with a whole group discussion of at least questions 3 and 4. Then ask: Should we abolish the electoral college? What would be some results of doing so?

Activity 2: Voting Rights and the US Constitution [15 minutes]

Distribute Handout B: Background Essay – Voting Rights Amendments and Handout C: The Suffrage Amendments

Have students work in pairs or small groups to read Handout B and complete the questions on Handout C.

Whole class discussion: Ask for volunteers to summarize Handout B in 2 or 3 sentences. How did expansion of the right to vote affect individual liberty?

Activity 3: The Role of the People in Expanding Voting Rights [15 minutes]

Distribute Handout D: Alice Paul

Have students read Handout D and use the critical thinking questions to discuss the struggles of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

Ask students to name some of the people they have learned about as they studied expansion of the right to vote. They should name such individuals as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hamer, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and others. Conclude by explaining that it was the actions of everyday citizens throughout history that made expansion of voting rights possible. Then pose the questions: What can we learn from the efforts they made?

Activity 4: Campaign Finance and Citizens United v. FEC (2010) [60 minutes]

Distribute Handout E: Citizens United v. FEC (2010) Background Essay and Handout F: Timeline of Campaign Finance Reform Initiatives

Have students read the background essay and complete Handout F.

Divide students into groups of thee or four and have them discuss the Comprehension and Critical Thinking Questions from Handout E.

Whole group discussion focusing on questions 5 and 6 of the Comprehension and Critical Thinking Questions from Handout E.

Distribute Handout G: Citizens United v. FEC (2010) majority opinion, Handout H: Citizens United v. FEC (2010) dissenting opinion, and Handout I: Citizens United v. FEC (2010) concurring opinion

Have students analyze the Court opinions in the 2010 Citizens United case.

Distribute Handout J: Evaluation of Citizens United v. FEC (2010)

Have students evaluate the opinions and explain their own opinion relating to the case.

Discuss the following questions:

  • Why are elections important?
  • How has the election process and voting changed over time?
  • Does the election process and voting rights need to change?

Write a proposal for a piece of legislation that would change or enhance the election process and or voting rights.

Evaluate the impact of 2013 Shelby County v. Holder on elections

Research voting legislation proposed on the state level after the 2020 election

Have each student choose an individual in the suffrage movement throughout American history to research. Inform students they will be sharing their research with the class the next day. They should include photographs or images of their person and be prepared to explain the following:

  • Basic background of the person
  • Their motivation to participate in the suffrage movement
  • Any sacrifices they made
  • Their impact on the movement

Have students present their research in groups of four. Then have each group discuss the similarities and difference in the people they chose.

Whole group discussion: What types of people participated in the movement? What types of sacrifices were made to extend the right to vote? To what extent do you think their sacrifice was worth it? Why?

Student Handouts

Next Lesson

Political Parties