Voting (Part 1 & 2)
Developed by: Marco Aliberti, UMF; Tabitha Fillmore, UMF; Julie Titcomb, UMF; Kent Burnham, UMF; Allison Kulick, UMF; Ann Jackson, Great Salt Bay School; Ed Finch, Gardiner High School; Chris Lockwood, MMA; Betsy Fitzgerald, Erskine Academy
divider line - brown/gray, with break in the line
Grade Level:
3-4, 5-8, 9-12(adaptable for all these age groups)

The MLR performance indicators listed below are for illustrative purposes. Depending on the focus of the lessons as developed by individual teachers, these indicators may or may not be addressed. Conversely this is not a definitive listing of all of the performance indicators which could be addressed in this lesson.

MLR - Elementary Grades: Social Studies:   (Civics A - 1, 2); Language Arts:   (Language C-2,6), (Writing E-4,6)

MLR - Middle Grades: Social Studies: (Civics A - 1, 4); Language Arts: (Language C-4), (Writing/Speaking E - 2,3)

MLR - Secondary Grades: Social Studies: (Civics A - 2,4); Language Arts:   (Language C-7), (Writing/Speaking E - 3, 4)

Task Description

Students will be introduced to the various methods of voting through demonstration and discussion. The list would include: raising hands (with eyes closed, eyes open); voice votes; secret ballot (Australian); standing in place (call for a division); and moving to opposing sides of the room. The ramifications of each methods should be discussed as well.

The second part of the lesson would revolve around the wording of questions for voting. Teacher examples would start the lesson, moving from simple "yes" or "no" questions to selections from town warrants, state initiatives, referendums and other state ballot questions. Students would be introduced to the concept of showing bias, writing in clear and understandable (neutral) language, and the possible outcomes of using open-ended questions.

A speaker from the Secretary of State's office could explain why state ballot wording is sometimes so confusing to voters and the efforts to change those state statutes.

Student Products/Performances

Students will demonstrate their understanding of the methods through discussion. Reasonably simple decisions could be voted upon first, then situations could be complicated by selecting sensitive issues upon which to vote and having students select the methods by which to make the decision. Additional questions to ask students could include their level of comfort with the voting method used, their satisfaction with the outcome and the ramifications of not voting.

Resources

A speaker from the Student Council, a municipal official, Internet addresses of underdeveloped countries and their efforts to institute free elections (see Time, Newsweek, CNN) Town warrants, Maine Secretary of State's Office.

A Citizen's Guide to Town Meeting: Ten Questions you’ve always wanted to ask (includes methods of voting, definitions of terms, different forms of town meeting government, etc.) from Maine Townsman, February 1998

Local Government in Maine, by Kenneth L. Roberts

The Secret ("Australian") Ballot Election Process from the Town Meeting & Elections Manual

30-A M.R.S.A. 2528 (1-10) Secret ballot, Maine Statutes regarding the election of town officials or for municipal referenda elections

Sample Warrant Articles for the Disposal of Tax-Acquired Property

Local Option Liquor Question, question & answer on procedures to follow to vote on a petitioned question, from  Maine Townsman, "Legal Notes," December 1984)

28-A M.R.S.A. 123 Local option questions, Maine Statutes list what questions may be voted on in a local option election

Sample Town Meeting Warrant

Criteria for Evaluating Quality of Product or Performance

Students will be able to demonstrate through examples that they have an understanding of the methods of voting and the ramifications of those methods. Students will also demonstrate their understanding of language usage through the construction of a mock ballot.