Teaching About Elections

Teachers across the country are thinking about how to approach teaching about this year’s elections. On this page, Street Law has compiled resources to support this work.

In addition to the resources below, you can also find these resources in our free store.

Our Teaching Elections webinar below reviews the materials on this page and how they can be used to teach about elections. If you have any questions about these materials or the strategies for using them, please reach out to Cathy and/or Jen.

 


Deliberation is a discussion strategy based on the Structured Academic Controversy method. It is used as a classroom discussion protocol that allows students to explore multiple sides of a contested issue and search for consensus cooperatively. Street Law has materials to support the Deliberation instructional process and topic materials to integrate into the process.

Highlighted Teaching Materials on 2020 Presidential Election

Highlighted Deliberation topics:


Several Supreme Court cases address issues related to elections. Teachers can pair these cases with interactive case study methods including the “You be the Justice: Judicial Opinion Writing” activity.

Highlighted Supreme Court cases and instructional strategies:

Cases about redistricting and gerrymandering:

  • Baker v. Carr (1962) Case Summary & Classifying Arguments
    • Do federal courts have the power to decide cases about the apportionment of population into state legislative districts?
  • Shaw v. Reno (1993) Case Summary
    • Did the North Carolina residents’ claim that the 1990 redistricting plan discriminated on the basis of race raise a valid constitutional issue under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause?
  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) v. Perry (2006) Case Summary
    • Did Texas violate the one-person, one-vote principle in failing to use updated census data when drawing its 2003 redistricting plan?
    • Did the 2003 redistricting plan dilute the voting rights of voters of color under the Voting Rights Act?
  • Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (2015) Case Summary
    • Does the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution permit a state to use an independent commission established by ballot initiative to draw congressional district boundaries?
  • Evenwel v. Abbott (2016) Case Summary
    • Does the principle of “One Person, One Vote” require states to use their voter population rather than total population when apportioning legislative districts?
  • Gill v. Whitford (2018) Case Summary
    • Did the plaintiffs in this case have standing to bring their statewide partisan gerrymandering claims and, if so, could the court consider those claims?
  • Rucho v. Common Cause (2019) Case Summary
    • If plaintiffs have standing and their claims are justiciable, is North Carolina’s 2016 congressional map an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander?

Cases about voting laws and polling places:

  • Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections (2008) Case Summary
    • Does Indiana’s statute, requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID, severely burden citizens’ right to vote?
  • Shelby County v. Holder (2013) Case Summary
    • Did Congress exceed its power to regulate voting when it reauthorized Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in 2006?
  • Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky (2018) Case Summary
    • Does a Minnesota statute that broadly bans all political apparel at polling places violate the First Amendment?

Cases about campaign finance legislation:

  • Citizens United v. FEC (2010) Case Summary & Unmarked Opinions Activity
    • Does a law that limits the ability of corporations and labor unions to spend their own money to advocate the election or defeat of a candidate violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech?
  • McCutcheon v. FEC (2014) Case Summary
    • Do federal limits on aggregate contributions to political committees and candidates violate the First Amendment?

Cases about the Electoral College:

  • Chiafalo v. Washington (2020) Case SummaryClassifying Arguments Activity, & SCOTUS in the Classroom materials
    • Is Washington’s law that fines presidential electors for voting for a candidate other than their party’s nominee an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment?
  • Colorado v. Baca (2020) Case Summary & SCOTUS in the Classroom materials
    • Is Colorado’s law that requires electors to vote for the candidate that won the popular vote in Colorado a violation of the 12th Amendment?
    • Does a presidential elector have a constitutionally protected right to exercise discretion, which would give them standing to sue the state, if they are prevented by state law from casting their electoral vote of choice?

Street Law also has full lesson plans for teaching about elections, including:

Learn more about how these materials and strategies translate to at-home learning.


Resources by Topic Category:

Electoral College:

Redistricting and gerrymandering:

Voting laws and requirements:

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Cathy Ruffing

Senior Director, Teacher Professional Development Programs & Curriculum

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Jen Wheeler

Director, Teacher Professional Development Programs & Curriculum