Should Americans Vote?

persuasive essay using provided sources - 5 paragraph essay

This assignment requires students to use provided sources to construct a reasoned argument that persuades eligible citizens to vote--or not vote.  Steps include discussing the rights and responsibilities of citizens, as well as the meaning of voting.  Students read a series of articles arguing for and against voting.  

INSTRUCTIONAL NOTE:  The following are suggested steps to make use of relevant resources.  These should be organized into multiple class activities, discussions, and/or homework according to the instructor’s style and the needs of the class. This lesson is also available as a Google Doc

ASSIGNMENT:  In a typical presidential election, only about 60% of Americans vote.  Should more people vote? Why? In this assignment, you will learn about elections and the history of voting rights in America.  Then you will read a series of articles in which people argue for and against voting. Where do you stand on the issue? You will use these articles to make your own argument.

 

GUIDING QUESTIONS: Should Americans vote?  Why or why not?

PURPOSE AND AUDIENCE: To persuade classmates, the professor, and community members whether or not they should vote.

SOURCES:  See below for a collection of recommended sources.

LENGTH:  5 paragraphs plus Works Cited

 

STEPS:

PART 1:  Election Basics

  • WRITING/DISCUSSION PROMPTS:  

    • Elections are fundamental to a democracy.  Here’s a basic definition to start out considering what they are and how they are important.  Do you believe elections are meaningful? Why/why not?

    • What is an American?  How is a citizen defined?  What are the rights and responsibilities of a citizen?

    • Watch this brief video about the history of voting rights in America, and read over this U.S. Voting Rights timeline.  For a longer, slightly more current resource, consider this article about the history of voting rights in the United States.  Talk about the history of voting rights in the United States.  Consider race/gender/age/criminal status. Who is eligible to vote?  Who should be eligible to vote? 16 year olds? Felons? All legal residents?

    • Here’s an overview of the process of electing a United States president:  https://www.usa.gov/election

    • Here’s an explanation of the Electoral College https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9H3gvnN468

 

PART 2:  Should eligible citizens choose to vote?

  • WRITING/DISCUSSION PROMPTS:  

    • Why do we need a representative government?

    • Just because someone can vote does not necessarily mean they should vote--or does it?  

    • The United States has notoriously low voter turnout.  What are some reasons why people do or do not vote?  Pair off and brainstorm a list of reasons to vote or not to vote. Then share those ideas as a class and discuss each idea individually.

    • Do you believe our election outcomes would be different with substantially higher voter turnout? How so?

PART 3:  What are some reasons people do/don’t vote

  • READINGS:

REASONS PEOPLE DON’T VOTE:

  • Khalid, Asma, et al. “On The Sidelines Of Democracy: Exploring Why So Many Americans Don't Vote.” NPR, NPR, 10 Sept. 2018, www.npr.org/2018/09/10/645223716/on-the-sidelines-of-democracy-exploring-why-so-many-americans-dont-vote.

    • This article offers a thorough exploration of who votes and who doesn’t vote.  It includes an audio version and several engaging visual representations. The central question:  “Who is not voting — and what impact does that have?”  The article explores factors such as age, income, education level, and habits

 

ARGUMENTS THAT PEOPLE SHOULD VOTE

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ARGUMENTS THAT PEOPLE SHOULD NOT VOTE

WRITING ASSIGNMENT:  

  • Introduction with thesis

  • 3 paragraphs reasoning why people should/should not vote

  • Conclusion

 

OTHER RESOURCES ON VOTER TURNOUT AND ON WHETHER OR NOT TO VOTE

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