Voting
12th Grade Voting Inquiry
Am I Going to Vote?

Download Entire Inquiry Here

Staging the Compelling Question
The inquiry opens with students completing two Taking Informed Action tasks as an anchor for considering whether they will vote in an upcoming election. As a starting point, students understand that in order to vote they must first register. In the state of New York, citizens can register to vote as long as they turn 18 before the end of the calendar year. Students then assess whether or not they would or could register to vote. Teachers could initiate a class discussion on registering to vote and keep track of why students think it is important or not important to register. Teachers might also take a moment to talk about those students who would like to register but who are unable to do so (e.g., those who are not United States citizens).
  • Source A: New York State Board of Elections, “New York Voter Registration Form,” 2015
Supporting Question 1- How has the youth voter changed over time?
The first supporting question—“How has the youth voter changed over time?”—helps students establish a foundational understanding of how youth voting habits have changed throughout United States history. The formative performance task calls on students to identify trends in youth voting using census data accompanied by data from the Pew Research Center. Featured Source A is comprised of four graphs from the United States Census Bureau that portray the voting habits of different age groups in elections from 1964 to 2012. Featured Source B is a collection of graphs from the Pew Research Center that portray the physical and political makeup of the youth vote.
  • Source A: United States Census Bureau, collection of graphs highlighting voting trends amongst different age demographics, “Young-Adult Voting: An Analysis of Presidential Elections, 1964-2012,” 2014

Public domain. US Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p20-573.pdf.
 

  • Source B: Pew Research Center, study of changing voting trends among young voters, “Young Voters Supported Obama Less, But May Have Mattered More,” 2012

Reproduced with permission from the Pew Research Center. Based on exit poll data from the National Election Pool. Used with permission. http://www.people-press.org/2012/11/26/young-voters-supported-obama-less-but-may-have-mattered-more/

 

Supporting Question 2- What are the reasons some youth choose to vote?
For the second supporting question—“What are the reasons some youth choose to vote?”—students build on their knowledge of the youth vote by analyzing documents that show why young people vote in elections. The formative performance task calls on students to develop an evidence-backed claim that answers the supporting question. There are three featured sources that help students make a claim. The first, a video from TED Ed that presents a brief history of suffrage in the United States, helps students to see that voting is a right—and one that has not always been granted. The second featured source is a recording from the This I Believe organization in which Savannah Lengsfelder discusses why she believes in government. This document helps students see that some people take part in the political process because they believe it can make a difference. The third featured source is a fact sheet on youth voting from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). This document is meant to help students understand trends in youth voting, explain why youth voting matters, and discuss what factors influence youth voting.
  • Source A: Nicki Beaman Griffin, video segment describing how different groups fought for suffrage, “The Fight for the Right to Vote in the United States,” TED Ed, 2013

Link to website with permission from Ted Conferences LLC. From the TED-Ed Lesson “The fight for the right to vote in the United States.” http://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-fight-for-the-right-to-vote-in-the-united-states-nicki-beaman-griffin#review.

  • Source B: Sarah Lengsfelder, transcript and audio describing how the United States government works to solve problems, “I Help Make Government Work,” The Bob Edwards Show, February 18, 2011 “I Help Make Government Work,” Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Lengsfelder. From the Essay Collection at thisibelieve.org, Copyright ©2005-2015 by This I Believe, Inc. Reprinted with permission. http://thisibelieve.org/essay/26243/.
  • Source C: Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, graphs and fact sheet covering the trends of young voters, “Youth Voting Quick Facts,” 2014
Supporting Question 3- What are the reasons some youth choose not to vote?
To answer the third supporting question—“What are the reasons some youth choose not to vote?”—students build on their knowledge of the youth vote by analyzing documents that show why young people do not vote in elections. The formative performance task calls on students to develop an evidence-backed claim that answers the supporting question. Again, three sources help students make a claim. The first is an article from Southern Changes featuring students discussing their reasons for not voting. The interviews from the article talk about barriers to youth voting such as apathy and lack of knowledge. The second source is an Economist article that exposes students to the ideas that youth do not vote because they do not feel like stakeholders in the political process and are cynical about the politicians running for office. The last source is a collection of two short videos from C-SPAN’s Classroom Deliberation series that examine low youth-voting turnout. The two videos highlight the idea that youth voter turnout is low based on qualitative and quantitative data from Harvard’s Institute of Politics survey.
  • Source A: Staff writers, student testimonials about why they do or do not vote, “Why Don’t Youth Vote? Young People Respond,” Southern Changes, 2000 Courtesy of Southern Changes, a publication of the Southern Regional Council. Used with Permission. http://beck.library.emory.edu/southernchanges/article.php?id=sc22-4_009.
  • Source B: Staff writers, article describing reasons why young people are disinterested in voting, “Why Young People Don’t Vote,” The Economist, October 29, 2014 “The Economist explains: Why young people don’t vote,” The Economist, 29 Oct 2014. © The Economist newspaper Limited, London (29 Oct 2014). http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/10/economist-explains-24
  • Source C: C-SPAN, videos detailing why youth participate or not in elections, “Youth Vote,” C-SPAN Classroom Deliberations, 2014
 

Copyright © C-SPAN. Reproduced with permission. http://www.c-spanclassroomdeliberations.org/issues/youth-vote

 
New York State Social Studies Framework Key Idea & Practices 12.G3 RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES, AND DUTIES OF CITIZENSHIP: Active, engaged, and informed citizens are critical to the success of the United States’ representative democracy. United States citizens have certain rights, responsibilities, and duties, the fulfillment of which help to maintain the healthy functioning of national, state, and local communities.
 Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence     Civic Participation
Staging the Compelling Questions  
UNDERSTAND Investigate the registration process for voting.
ASSESS Discuss whether or not students in class would or could register to vote.