2020 Election Resources

An Election Year is HERE… Now What?

The 2020 presidential election is shaping up to be one of the most intense of the last few decades. Civics Learning Project is pleased to offer a series of lessons targeted to middle and high school level grades to help you and your students sort through this year’s election issues.

Scroll down for access to our digital materials and resources.

Our theme is WHY VOTING MATTERS – and in addition to covering the Oregon gubernatorial race and how our initiative system works, we have focused this year on other crucial electoral issues including:

    • Tips for teaching in polarized times
    • Electing a president and the characteristics of a good leader
    • Direct democracy, Oregon’s initiative process, and surveying proposed 2020 intiatives
    • Voting Rights, Voter Access, & Gerrymandering
    • Voter Turnout & Media Literacy
    • A culminating class town hall meeting about why voting matters

We hope these materials will prompt critical thinking and meaningful conversation in your classroom, and that this year’s election will be an event with which all students will engage. We’ve designed each of these units and lessons to be stand-alone and to work together, so you can pick and choose which will work best for your students. We’ve also included the new Oregon Social Studies standards as well as CCSS Literacy standards that connect to the lessons.

These new and updated materials and resources now have digital components! We’ve provided over 30 google doc, google slide, and google form activities teachers can use with teaching these lessons, along with a Google Classroom full of all the easy-to-download components for all the modules. Below is a Table of Contents of all the Resources provided in the materials linked here in the sidebar and the digitized resources available to you.

Intro Module for Teachers:

  • Goals for teachers and students
  • Theme and Pre-Unit Survey Question for Students
  • Tips for Teaching Elections in Polarized Times
  • Oregon Social Studies Standards – Grade 8
  • CCSS Literacy Standards for Social Studies – Grade 8
  • Oregon Social Studies Standards – High School
  • CCSS Literacy Standards for Social Studies – High School
  • Quotes about Voting


Unit 1 – Electing a President

Lesson 1.1 – How do Americans hire a president?

  • Pre-Unit Survey
  • Constitution, Article 2
  • Analyzing a Primary Document – Graphic Organizer
  • Analyzing a Primary Document – Questionnaire

Lesson 1.2 – What are the qualities of a good president?

  • Mind Map – the Roles of the President
  • The Qualities of a Good President
  • Voter Interview Form
  • Help Wanted: A President

Lesson 1.3 – How do we compare candidates?

  • SWOT Analysis of the Primary Process
    • Issue Analysis for the Primaries


Unit 2 – Other Issues for the 2020 Election

 Lesson 2.1 – How democratic is the United States Senate?

  • Survey of states with Senate contests in 2020
  • Article: How Democratic is the U.S. Senate?
  • Introduction to the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution
  • Graphic Organizer: using the Preamble to analyze the Senate’s representation
  • Reflection: the U.S. Senate in 2020

Lesson 2.2 – How does direct democracy work in Oregon?

  • How an idea becomes law through the legislative process
  • How an idea becomes law through the initiative process
  • What types of Ballot Measures are there?
  • Articles about Direct Democracy (pros & cons)
  • Propose a ballot measure for the state

Lesson 2.3 – What Measures are on Oregon’s 2020 ballot?

  • Survey of Proposed Initiatives
  • Analysis: Why does this question matter for Oregon?


Unit 3 – Voter Rights& Access

Lesson 3.1 – What is the history of Voting Rights in the U.S.?

  • Excerpts from the US Constitution & Legislation regarding voting rights
  • Who REALLY Gets to Vote: a Timeline
  • Activity – KWL Outline to Analyze who gets to vote
  • Article – Ex-felons in Florida must pay Fines before Voting, Appeals Court Rules
    • Background Information: Felon Voting Rights across the United States
    • Activity Analysis: Pro & Con of Felon Voting Rights
    • Guide to a Structured Academic Controversy around Voting Rights for 16-yr olds
    • SAC background articles for students
      • Article: A major American city may soon allow 16-year-olds to vote
      • Article: How Old do you have to be to Vote? These teen activists are changing the game.
      • Article: Oregon may lower the voting age to 16
      • Editorial: National Youth Rights Association: Top 10 Reasons to Lower the Voting Age
      • Editorial: Don’t lower the voting age, raise it.
    • Activity – Structured Academic Controversy Analysis form
    • Activity – Final Reflection: Voting Rights Priorities

Lesson 3.2 – What is Gerrymandering and how does it affect voter rights?

  • What is gerrymandering
  • Article: What Pennsylvania’s new congressional map means
  • Article: Drive Against Gerrymandering Finds New Life in Ballot Measures
  • A Solution Tree analysis of gerrymandering

Lesson 3.3 – How has voter access been limited in recent years?

  • Background Article: “Voter suppression in the US from the Civil War to Today”
  • Case File: Shelby County v. Holder (from
  • Background: Results of Shelby County v. Holder
  • Article: “Jim Crow 2.0? How Kentucky’s Poll Closures Could Suppress Black Votes”
  • Maps: The Section 5 States from Jim Crow Era & Voter Suppression Laws enacted after Shelby
  • Guide to Holding a simulated Congressional Hearing
  • Outline to prepare for hearing testimony
  • Hearing Evaluation Form (for observing hearings)


Unit 4 – How are Voters Influenced?

 Lesson 4.1 – Political Socialization: What makes voters WANT to vote?

  • Political Socialization – What influences people’s vote?
  • Article: What motivates people to vote?
  • Analysis: What would motivate me to vote

Lesson 4.2 – Voter Turnout: Why don’t more people vote?

  • Voter Turnout graphs
  • Backgrounder: Every Vote Counts
  • Article: US trails most developed countries in voter turnout
  • Article: Letting people vote at home increases voter turnout
  • Article: How Oregon Increased Voter Turnout More than any other State
  • FAQs about Voting in Oregon
  • Article: Voting by Mail during a Pandemic
  • Low Voter Turnout Role Play Activity
  • Persuasion: How can you convince people to turnout to vote?

Lesson 4.3 – Election Media Literacy: How do we access quality information?

  • Background: Media Literacy and why it matters
  • Analyzing Media: Should I believe everything I read or view?
  • Handout/Activity: Ad Analysis
  • Background: Techniques of Persuasion
  • Article: Social Media Use is at an All-Time High
  • Article: Social Media Misinformation a Major Challenge
  • Article: Bots and Your Ballot: What you need to know in 2020
  • Activity: Fact Checking the 2020 Election
  • Final Reflection on campaign media and democracy


Unit 5 – The 2020 Election Class Town Hall

  • How to do a town hall meeting in the classroom and digitally
  • Activity: An exercise in Persuasive Writing to practice how to write a persuasive testimony
  • Activity: An outline for drafting testimony
  • Activity: A participation form students can use to form questions and take notes
  • Activity: Reflection on the Town hall
  • Activity: Post-Election Reflection


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Access to Digital 2020 Elections Resources

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