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Getting Counted

Is the System Fair?

Throughout U.S. history, Americans have silently stewed and actively protested that presidential elections are unfair and fixed against them. Do they have a point?

The 2000 election marked only the fourth time in U.S. history that the winner of the national popular vote lost the presidency, adding to protesters' outrage.

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The 2000 election marked only the fourth time in U.S. history that the winner of the national popular vote lost the presidency, adding to protesters' outrage.

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OBJECTIVE: Students will understand why people are critical of the political process.

MATERIALS: Copies of the case study handout, one per student (download); Organizing Evidence worksheets, one per group (download); access to case study artifacts; NewseumED Pinterest board of related resources (optional)


  1. Ask students to brainstorm all the ways the public is involved in the election process. Can individuals make a difference?
  2. This case study is one of three in the Public Participation section of the EDCollection that looks at the use of social media, campaign events and efforts to change a political process that some consider unfair. Explain that the case study they will be looking at will raise questions about efficacy of public engagement in the election process.
  3. Read the Explore the Debate question aloud and/or write it on the board. Read them the overview that sets the scene for group work. Tell them they will use historical and contemporary examples to reach a consensus in small groups on an answer to the debate question.
  4. Pass out copies of the case study and the Organizing Evidence worksheet. Have the groups read each of the four Election Essentials and use the Questions to Consider to help guide the discussion. They should complete sections 1 and 2 on the worksheet.
  5. Have the students look at the Pages From History artifacts for the case study on and complete section 3 on the worksheet. Give the groups 15 minutes to collect and organize information to formulate evidence-supported arguments for their answer to the debate question. (If time is an issue, skip the artifacts or assign as homework.)
  6. Ask the groups to share their conclusions and reasoning. You may want to use the Questions to Consider again to push and expand the debate.

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Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

To request a large print or Braille version, call 202.292.6650.

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