Vermont Votes for Kids: A project of the Vermont Secretary of State

Curriculum Grades 9-12, Teacher Materials for Lesson 5:
An Informed and Timely Vote

 

The call to citizens to fully utilize their voting rights and responsibilities is clearly evident in the following:

"The only title in our democracy superior to that of President is the title of citizen."
(Justice Louis Brandeis, 1937)

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
(Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), American abolitionist)

The struggles of our predecessors have both bestowed and preserved the right of every qualified citizen to register and to vote. Such an endowment of democracy summons us to reply with efforts to be informed about the election process, the candidates, and the issues that await us on election day.

We, as citizens, are warned in the following quote by Samuel Langdon in 1788: "On the people, therefore, of these United States, it depends whether wise men, or fools, good or bad men, shall govern..."

This lesson attempts to heed Langdon's warning. Its goals are to:

  1. Acquaint students with some information and resources available to voters.
  2. Give them some tips on sorting objective sources from more biased ones.
  3. Introduce them to the significant dates and deadlines of the voting/election process.

ACTIVITY: A WEB OF INFORMATION AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

This activity is designed to be completed at home or school as a self-guided activity. It can also be done as a collaborative exercise by teams, preferably pairs. It is broken into parts, following a pattern of:

  1. Presenting a topic,
  2. Directing them to a web site, and
  3. Giving the students questions to answer, having them discover available resources, and helping them to learn the information.
Copy and distribute the Student Lesson AN INFORMED AND TIMELY VOTE. Note: The answers are on the bottom of the student lesson so each student or team can compare results with the answers when finished. Another option is to remove the answers from the lesson before you copy it, and then present the answers all at once when you choose. Students will need access to the Internet.

The questions and answers are listed below for you.

The basic framework of Vermont's government is contained in the Constitution of the State of Vermont. You can find a copy online at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/const2.htm

You may find the answers to these elections-related questions in the Vermont Constitution.

QUESTIONS:

  1. How long must you live in Vermont and in your District, before you can run for the office of District Representative?
  2. How long must you live in Vermont before you can run for the office of Governor or Lieutenant Governor?
  3. What if the Governor dies while in office, or is removed from office, or fails to receive a majority of votes? How is a new Governor chosen?
  4. Some judges are appointed by the Governor, and others are elected by the voters. Which judges are elected?
  5. How often do elections occur for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Representatives and State Senators?
  6. What is the term of office of an Assistant Judge?
For the next set of questions, you may find the resources you need at the Vermont Elections web site at http://vermont-elections.org/ Look in the panel at the far right of the page.

QUESTIONS:

  1. What are the names of our state's two U.S. Senators?
  2. Where are their offices?
  3. Who is our Representative to the U.S. Congress?
  4. What is the name of the Vermont Secretary of State?
  5. Name two Justices of the State Supreme Court.

Suppose you were running as an independent or minor party candidate for the office of District Representative to the Vermont General Assembly. Answer the following questions, based on what you can find at http://vermont-elections.org/elections1/

QUESTION:

  1. What do you need to do to get your name on the ballot?
  2. What is the deadline for filing your petition with the Secretary of State?
Want to know who your state Representative and state Senator are? Go to http://vermont-elections.org/2005-2006BioBook/biodex.htm and find the name of your district.

QUESTION:

  1. What is the name of your Representative district?
  2. Who is your Representative?
  3. Who is your state Senator?
  4. From the biographical information provided on your District Representative, compare him or her to yourself.

ANSWERS:

    1. Two years in Vermont, the last of which shall be in the District
    2. Four years
    3. These matters are decided by the General Assembly
    4. Assistant Judges, Judges of Probate
    5. Every two years
    6. Four years
    7. Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders
    8. Offices in Vermont and in Washington. D.C.
    9. Peter Welch
    10. Jim Condos
    11. Justices include John A. Dooley III, Denise Johnson, Paul L. Reiber, Marilyn S. Skoglund.
    12. File a Consent Form and completed Petition to the Secretary of State
    13. September 15, 2006
    14. Depends on district
    15. Depends on district
    16. Depends on district
    17. Depends on district



Vermont Secretary of State http://www.vermontvotesforkids.com