Voting Rights, Election Laws, and the Courts
by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialiststate and federal stakeholders are now reflecting and proposing policy changes to laws concerning voting and election laws. While some frame these current and societal issues around voting rights, others are framing new legislation around election security. Inevitably, courts will play a role in settling essential questions around the constitutionality of these endeavors.
Dr. Steven D. Schwinn, professor of law at the John Marshall Law School at UIC, recently joined the Illinois Civics Hub for a webinar on Voting Rights, Election Laws, and the Courts to give a historical perspective on the Voting Rights Act, discuss current cases before the court and proposed state and federal legislation. If you missed the webinar, you can access a recording on the Illinois Civics Webinar Archive and this folder of resources shared by Dr. Schwinn.
The Illinois Civics course requirements for middle and high school require students to engage in current and societal issue discussions, simulations of democratic processes, and service learning, which further develop their knowledge of the democratic institutions that gird our constitutional republic. The Illinois Civics Instructional Coaches share some of the resources they use to engage students in issues related to suffrage.
- Tracy Freeman from Normal shares, “My students are challenged to vote and engage others. We do an inquiry “Am I Going to Vote?” using C3 Teachers resources with an informed action around engaging others to vote.”
- Students also serve as election judges through the First Judge Program. More information about this program can be obtained from your local election authority.
- They bring the courts into the examination of suffrage, “by asking questions about Shelby v Holder as well as seeking ways to engage students in the discussion around the proposed laws around voting rights.” The PBS documentary Whose Vote Counts? is a helpful resource for this.
- Matthew Wood from West Chicago suggests facilitating a Philosophical Chairs activity on Ranked Choice Voting.
- Corie Yow from Chatham shares, “Facing History and Ourselves has an inquiry (with awesome resources included) based on the essential question: "What barriers to voting do Americans face and why does it matter?"
- PBS NewsHour: To vote or not to vote? is geared for grades 8-12.
- The Classroom Law Project has 5 units focused around the theme, Why Voting Matters. It even has a town hall simulation.