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More on Elections
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Classroom Election Activity
Election Activities

You can have a classroom election to decide an issue that your students care about (recess, snacks, a classroom activity...) or have a mock-presidential election. Your election can include disccussing the issues, registering voters, voting in a voting area by secret ballot, counting and tallying the votes, and putting the election results into effect. What issues do you care about?

Before beginning, think of issues your students enjoy voting on, make up copies of a short voter registration form for each student, and have a shoe box at hand (this will be the ballot box). After the election issue is chosen you will need to make up a ballot for each student.

1. Pick an Issue to Vote On
Have a classroom discussion to decide what to vote on (or you decide the issue and have the students discuss the pros and cons of each side). It can be a mock presidential election or an initiative about classroom rewards or behavior (for example, what to eat at a classroom party).

BALLOT
Pick One Classroom Party Food
Pizza  
Ice Cream Sundae 
2. Decide on the Precise Wording for the Ballot
Decide how to word the question and the choices on the ballot. Then make a ballot for each student. Each should be a small piece of paper that states the issue to be voted on. For example, "Favorite classroom party food." You can have the students check a box, fill in a circle, or write in their choice.

Voter Registration Card
Name  
Age  
Grade  
Address  
3. Register Each Student to Vote (optional)
You can skip voter registration if you like, but it lets the students know that adults have to register officially long before they can vote on election day. To register to vote, each child should fill out a mock voter registration card on which they write their name, classroom, grade, and any other information you'd like them to add (perhaps the city the live in, their address, etc.).

Voters List
John Smith  
Maria Garcia  
Anna Oppenborn  
...  
The teacher collects the cards and makes a voters list. Make sure to leave room after each student's name -- this is where they will each sign before they are given a ballot. Let the students know that this makes sure that people can only vote once.

4. Make a Ballot Box
A shoe box with a slot in the top makes a nice ballot box. If you like, cover it with construction paper and label it "BALLOT BOX."

5. Have the Students Vote by Secret Ballot
One at a time, each student needs to find their name on the voters list and sign next to it. That student then gets a ballot.

Have an area in which the students can privately read and fill out the ballot. A few desks in a corner will do (for extra effect, you could make a voter's booth in which a student reads and fills out the ballot -- a cardboard box from a refrigerator would work, but it is not necessary).

In the private area, the student will then read the ballot and fill it out. Remind them that it is a secret ballot and that they can vote however they'd like - no one should pressure anyone to vote any particular way.

When the students are done filling out their forms, they can put their ballot in the ballot box.

RESULTS
Favorite Classroom Party Food
Pizza
Ice Cream Sundae
6. Count the Votes and Tally Them
As you count each ballot, tally the votes on the board (for older students, you can also calculate percentages). When you're done counting, make sure the number of ballots is equal to the number of students. The side with greatest number of votes is the winner. If there is a tie, you can discuss the issue again, and have another election.

7. Put the Election Results into Effect
To show the students that voting is important, make sure the policy goes into effect when you said it would.

Topics and Questions For Classroom Discussion
I. What is a ballot? Answer: The list of the issues and/or candidates running for office. A ballot is used to cast a vote.

II. What is a ballot box? Answer: The box into which the votes are cast.

III. Why do people have to register before they vote? Answer: So only citizens in the region vote and they only vote once in each election.

IV. Why do you put your ballot in the ballot box and not just hand it to a voting official? Answer: So your vote remains secret.

V. What should you do if there is a tie? Answer: There are many different reactions to a tie. You can re-count the votes, re-do the election or simply toss a coin to determine the outcome of the election. The students can come up with new alternatives.

VI. How do you feel when you voted for the side that lost? How do you feel when you voted for the side that won?

VII. Why is voting important?



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