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

Curriculum for Grades 9-12, Teacher Materials for Lesson 7:
Involvement - Walking the Walk, Talking the Talk


"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
(President John F. Kennedy, 1961)

Kennedy's admonition to get involved for the sake of democracy still rings true. It summons each of us who share the "blessings of liberty" to give something back by contributing to the democratic process. But how? Is it by becoming informed on issues and candidates? Is it by helping in a campaign or expressing one's views?

This lesson will:

    1.Help students to practice getting connected with an informative web site and political parties, both avenues for future information and participation.
    2.Challenge students to think of a variety of ways they can support a candidate or issue.
    3.Quiz students along the way to help them review and to promote long-term retention.

Activity One will introduce students to the polical parties in our state.

Activity Two will help students master the basic vocabulary of elections so they feel more included in "the conversation" and thus they can participate more knowledgeably.

Activity Three will introduce students to both the "Glossary" and the "Frequently Asked Questions" resources of the www.vote.wa.gov web site.

Activity Four will help students learn the titles of various elected offices at local, state and national levels and to learn how often each is up for election. It involves reading, creation of an election cycle, and a quiz-review at the end.

For each student, you will need to make a copy of:
    (A) the Student Lesson INVOLVEMENT: WALKING THE WALK; TALKING THE TALK,
    (B) the "Comprehensive Review Questions" on this page and
    (C) the Activity Four "Review Practice." You might also wish to make an overhead transparency of the answer keys for each activity.

Activities One and Three require access to the Internet. Activity Four requires drawing paper of some sort of colored markers and pens. You will want to secure these in advance.

The activities are designed for use in a self-tutorial mode, to be completed in class by each student working alone. You could adapt them for use as collaborative activities by pairing students. Students are to do each activity and section in order, reading and then completing the reinforcing quiz or assignment that immediately follows before moving to the next assignment.

ACTIVITY: ONE

Review Questions:

    1. Under state law, to be considered a Major Party, a party it must receive at least _____ percent of the votes for a statewide party candidate in the last general election AND reorganize in the following odd year in at least __ towns.
    2. What are the names of the major parties in Vermont?
    3. What are the names of two major or minor political parties that are unfamiliar to you? Do they have web sites or email addresses?
    4.What are at least five more ways to join in support of your favorite candidate or issue? (Examples given are creation of signs and sending postcards to friends or family.)

ANSWERS:

    1. 5%, 15 towns.
    2. Currently, Democratic Party, Republican Party and Progressive Party
    3. Answers will vary from the list of existing parties on the web site http://vermont-elections.org/elections1/political_parties.html
    4.Not in any special order: Doorbelling, phone calls, helping with mass mailings, passing out leaflets, sign waving, putting up yard signs, materials distribution, writing letters to the editor, getting signatures and endorsements, contributing money, attending rallies and fundraisers, soliciting donations and displaying bumper stickers.

ACTIVITY: TWO

Ask students to do the Comprehensive Review Questions on their own paper so they have the option of a second pass at the material on the original handout. The goal is to master the terminology so students are invited to reread a section if needed. When each student has satisfactorily completed all sections, you should administer the comprehensive review quiz (below) for a measure of how well each learned the basic terminology. Students are told of this in their directions. The answers are provided so you might make copies or an overhead transparency.

You may wish to award a prize or certificate of some sort to those that achieve the top rating on the Comprehensive Review for Activity Two.

Comprehensive Review Questions:

Section A

    1. Voters who will be absent from their communities, voters otherwise unable to vote in person on election day, or voters who simply choose to do so may request an _____ _____ from the Town Clerk.
    2. How close to the polling places may candidates display signs and greet voters?
    3. Vermont polling places close at ______ on election day.
    4.The nickname for the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 is the "_____ ____" law because it allows residents to obtain voter registration materials as they apply for a driver's license.
    5.The official list of all candidates and issues upon which a voter is entitled to vote at an election is called the ______.

Section B

    1.An election required to be held on a fixed date in November recurring at regular intervals is the ________ election.
    2.A _____ ____ is a way to raise money for public projects like a new school, if approved by a vote of the people.
    3. The list of registered voters in a Vermont town is called the __________________.
    4.Winning by a number that is greater than others in a list but less than a simple majority is called winning by a _______.
    5. A voters Application for Addition to the checklist should be presented to the ________ ________.
    6.A question or proposal submitted in an election to obtain the voters' will on the matter, sometimes called a proposition, is a _____.
    7.The process that reduces the field of candidates for public office in advance of the general election is called the _____.
    8.When a candidate or a measure receives over 50% of the votes cast the result is called a _____.

Section C

    1.One who seeks or is nominated for an office is a _____ or a nominee.
    2.This term refers to the office of governor, as in a _____ candidate.
    3.Certain elective public offices are ____ offices which means that the candidates run for the position on the basis of political party membership.
    4.The _____ is the person who presently holds an office, either by election or appointment.
    5.A group that shares the same views about government and works together to win elections is called a ____ ____.
    6.A candidate not affiliated with a political party is said to be an _______ candidate.
    7.A ______ is what we call the set of principles and positions on issues that a candidate or political party endorses as part of a campaign.
    8.Names that are not included on the official ballot but are added by a voter in the act of voting are called ______ _____.
    9.A time period (generally one week) used to register for a political contest is called the _____ period.
    10.An official's ______ is the body of voters having the right to take part in the election of a candidate.
    11.Committees formed by business, organizations or unions to contribute funds to a candidate or issue are called _____ _____ Committees.

Section D

These political divisions are listed out of order. Rearrange them in their correct ascending order from most local to most global or distant.

     District, State, Town, County, Nation

ANSWERS:

Activity Two, Section A

     1. Absentee Ballot
2. The Presiding Officer of the polling place decides.
3. 7:00 PM
4. Motor Voter
5. Ballot

Activity Two, Section B

     1. General
2. Bond Vote
3. Checklist
4. Plurality
5. Town Clerk
6. Referendum
7. Primary
8. Majority

Activity Two, Section C

     1. Candidate
2. Gubernatorial
3. Partisan
4. Incumbent
5. Political Party
6. Independent
7. Platform
8. Write-Ins
9. Filing
10. Constituency
11. Political Action

Activity Two, Section D

     1. Town
2. District
3. County
4. State
5. Nation

ACTIVITY: THREE

Review Questions:

    1.What is the term for the process of examining ballots or groups of ballots, subtotals, and cumulative totals in order to determine the official returns of, and prepare the certification for, a primary or general election? ______
    2.To ___ is to attempt to influence politics in favor of a special interest.

    3.The number of people who voted in an election is called the _____ _____. It's often expressed as a percentage of registered voters who cast ballots.
    4. Since election night voting results are unofficial, how many days have to pass for the results of the general election of November 2006 to be reported by local canvassing committees? ______

    5. Are absentee ballots are still accepted and tabulated after election day? _______
    6.Who is in charge of examining the ballots and vote totals in order to determine the official returns for an election? ______ ______ ______
     .  

ANSWERS:

     1. Canvassing
2. Lobby
3. Voter Turnout
4. 7 days
5. No
6. Canvassing Committee

ACTIVITY: FOUR

This part of the lesson is best done in pairs for the effects of collaboration, but that is not mandatory if you prefer that some or all students work alone. Some may experience anxiety because they don't feel "artistic." Being with a partner may alleviate this problem. When complete, ask students to share their creations with the class and explain the symbolism they used to organize and convey the information.

Copy and distribute the review practice below as a culmination to this lesson. Use it either as a quiz or as a further practice to reinforce their learning. You can direct students to do it without the aid of notes or you could allow the aid of the drawings they made if you wish. Tell students not to worry about putting answers in the same specific order as on their Student Lesson Seven.

Review-Practice:

Fill in the names of offices that fit the criteria given.

Offices that require an election every 2 years:

    

State:
1.
2.
3.
4.
National:
1.

Offices that require an election every 4 years:

     State:
1.
National:
1.

Offices that require an election every 6 years:

     National:
1.

ANSWERS:

The following offices have 2-year terms:

     Governor
Lieutenant Governorr
State Representative
U.S. Representative

The following offices have 4-year terms:

     State Assistant Judge
U.S. President

The following offices have 6-year terms:

     U.S. Senator



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