Voting Rights

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Whose Rules?

CIVICS – Voting Rights



OSPI Website: - Scroll down to Elementary, Whose Rules is on the right, click on CBA (for CBA and Rubric), Support Materials (for Teacher Directions, Writing Checklist, Graphic Organizer), and Archived Anchor Sets (for sample student papers):

Suggested unit outlines from OSPI:

WLMA elementary CBAs site: - Provides CBA options for elementary students:

Worksheet Print out for student use.



Grade 4/5/6 Classroom Based Assessment:  A responsible citizen understands existing laws.  You will examine a law or rule to determine why laws exist.


Essential Questions: 

  • Who should vote for the President of the United States?
  • What unfair voting laws from the past were changed and in what ways were people affected by the changes?
  • Are other voting changes necessary today?


In an essay or presentation you will:

  • Identify a problem (unfair voting practices) and a rule/law that attempts to solve it,
  • Explain specific ways the rule/law attempts to solve the problem,
  • Identify and explain how at least two individuals and/or groups* participated in the rule/law making process, and
  • Evaluate the rule/law’s effectiveness by explaining how the rule/law promotes democratic ideals.

     * groups should be governing or rule-making bodies

Key Vocabulary:

  • Amendments – changes made to a law or legal document.
  • Bill – the draft of a new law, or the law itself.
  • Bill of Rights – a list of the specific freedoms and rights guaranteed to citizens.
  • Citizens – the people who live under a government
  • Congress – a meeting of delegates to discuss some question or problem.
  • Constitution – the document that describes the basic laws and principles by which a nation is governed.
  • Convention – a meeting of people who have the same interests.
  • Delegates – people who represent a larger group of people at a meeting.
  • Democracy – a government in which power is given to the people through a system of representation and free elections.
  • Democratic ideals – beliefs that are the foundation of a democracy.
  • Freedom – liberation from the power of another; the quality or state of being free.
  • Government – the institutions, laws and customs through which governing is carried out; the persons responsible for the direction and supervision of public affairs.
  • Justice – the quality of being just, impartial, or fair.
  • Liberty – freedom; to power to do as one pleases; release from some former restraint; enjoyment of social, political and economic rights.
  • Preamble – the first part of something; an introduction.
  • Rule vs. Law – a rule is a guideline for a specific situation; a law is imposed by a government and all are required to obey.
  • Ratify – to agree to; to approve officially.
  • Rights – a power or privilege to which one is entitled.


See OSPI website, above.

Graphic Organizer:  See OSPI website, above.

Worksheet: Print out for student use.

Common Readings (everyone read):


U.S. Constitution – Common Readings (everyone read):


  • We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

VOTING RIGHTS – THE CONSTITUTION  (the right to justice /fairness)

  • U. S. Constitution, Preamble: We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (1776)  (see picture of original Constitution)

     (explains how the Constitution was created)

VOTING RIGHTS – THE BILL OF RIGHTS (the right to protest when      treated unfairly/unjustly)

  • Amendment 3 (Article the Third):  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”      (explanation with picture) (explains   content of the Bill of Rights)

  • Amendment 14: Says that the Bill of Rights now applies to state governments as well as to the national government.  In other words, the states must give the same rights to individuals that the constitution gives. (see sections 1 and 2)


Other Laws - Readings about Amendments to the Constitution
(choose two topics to research)

AFRICAN AMERICAN VOTING RIGHTS (the right to vote no matter what your Race/Culture may be):

  • Amendment 15: Forbids the U.S. or any state from preventing a person from voting because of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”  (1870) (original text and explanation)

POOR PEOPLE VOTING RIGHTS: (the right to vote no matter how poor you are.):

  • Amendment 24, Section 1 (Voting Rights Act): Forbids the United States or any state to abridge or deny any citizen the right to vote for the President or Vice President or for any state representative in congress because of failure to pay a poll or any other tax. (1964)

     Amendment 24, Section 2: Gives Congress the power to enforce this    article by appropriate legislation. (1964)  (original text)  (original text and        explanation)

WOMEN VOTING RIGHTS (the right to vote whether man or woman):

  • Amendment 19: Gives women the right to vote. (1920) (original document and   explanation) (original petition to give women the right to     vote)  (other     documents, including final ratification by Tennessee)

AMERICAN INDIAN VOTING RIGHTS (the right to citizenship if an Indian, and thus the right to vote):

  • “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all noncitizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States: Provided, That the granting of such citizenship shall not in any manner impair or otherwise affect the right of any Indian to tribal or other property.”  (law    and commentary with photo) (links to photos and     music)

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA RESIDENTS VOTING RIGHTS (the right to vote no matter where you live):

  • Amendment 23: Gives the District of Columbia three electoral votes for the election of President and Vice President.  (1961) States_Constitution  (original text)

VOTING MACHINES (the right to have voting machines that work and that count votes accurately):

  • Help America Vote Act of 2002: (Provides federal funds for states to purchase or lease new voting equipment.  Initiated after punch-card ballot problems during 2000 Presidential election.) (actual text of law – read first        paragraph only)


Voting Practices History
(choose the same two topics you chose above):

Research your topic in Encyclopedia Britannica Online.  Use Logon: mtbaker, Password: whatcom.  Choose topics voting rights, women’s rights.

AFRICAN AMERICANS (history of voting problems):

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (history of voting problems):

VOTING MACHINES (history of voting machine problems):

WOMEN (history of voting problems):

 Books in our Collection: (Acme Library)


Burgan, Bill of Rights (History, with good pictures)

Cathesrow, We the Kids (Picture book about the Preamble to the Constitution)

Morris, The First Book of the Constitution (Good explanation of the Bill of Rights on p. 54)

Prolman, The Story of the Constitution (old book, but fairly good diagram of the three branches of government in the back)

Elections and Voting:

Cronin, Duck for President (a fun picture book looks at campaigns and elections)

DeGezelle, Voting in Elections

Nobelman, Election Day

Peterson, Electing our Presidents

Women’s Rights

Dipucchio, Grace for President (fun picture book about a girl running for class president - explains the idea of the electoral college, too)


WASHINGTON STATE (voting rights history):  (Time line history of voting rights in Washington State)

Info Please Homework Center site, US Government:

Research your topic in Encyclopedia Britannica Online.  Use Logon: mtbaker, Password: whatcom.  Choose topics voting rights, women’s rights.


School House Rock (particularly how a bill becomes a law)

Legacy of a Dream (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)



(F. Gregory, 9/08, with help from Kim Schwartzman, Al Corning, Barb Webb)






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