Lesson Plan

Ballot Initiatives Expand Voting Rights

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GRADE LEVEL: High School

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language

The Most Important Ballot Initiatives of 2018

Voting rights were on the ballot in the 2018 midterm elections, with several states enacting ballot initiatives/measures to expand voting rights. These initiatives include rules about redistricting, same-day voter registration, automatic voter registration and restoring the voting rights of people convicted of felonies. While voting restrictions and suppression have negatively impacted people’s ability to vote in recent years, these measures expand voting rights in some states.

What are Ballot Initiatives?

Ballot initiatives (or measures) are questions that appear on ballots during elections where voters can approve or reject the question. This is different than the way most legislation is passed where elected officials write and pass laws. In contract, ballot initiatives allow eligible citizens to vote directly on new legislation.

Voting Restrictions and Suppression

In recent years, the issue of voter restriction and suppression has been a strong presence in our elections. Some states have enacted voting laws that change or make it difficult for people to vote including:

  • Requiring voter ID, proof of citizenship and/or photo ID to vote;
  • Restricting early in-person voting;
  • Making voter registration more difficult;
  • Preventing convicted felons from voting;
  • Purging voter registers; and
  • Moving electoral boundaries to exclude or include certain voter demographic groups.

These laws disenfranchise eligible voters and disproportionately affect people of color, the elderly, young voters and those who live in poverty.

About this Lesson Plan

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn about ballot initiatives in general, reflect on voting rights ballot measures enacted during the 2018 midterm elections, read primary and secondary sources on specific ballot initiatives and write their own ballot initiative to expand voting rights.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will understand the purpose of ballot initiatives.
  • Students will read primary and secondary sources to explore the way that ballot initiatives will expanding voting rights.
  • Students will reflect on specific ballot initiatives and then express their opinions by voting.
  • Students will write their own voting rights ballot initiative.