Election day was Tuesday. Take this opportunity to explore the election process with your students using popular PBS LearningMedia elections animations and interactives. From understanding various tactics of a political campaign to exploring how citizens decide who and what to vote for in an election, step inside the voting booth with PBS LearningMedia. And sign up for a free account to access PBS LearningMedia productivity tools to enhance teaching and learning in your classroom.

Inside the Voting Booth
This activity introduces students to the history of suffrage in America, through the “Voting Time Machine,” which presents case studies from different decades. Students also anticipate the time when they will be able to vote, through a customized, printable voter registration card, which also asks them to identify the issues they think are most important today. Understand why it is important to vote, examine times in U.S. election history when one vote made a difference in the election’s outcome, learn several historical facts about voting and vote in a mock issues survey.

Majority Rules: California’s Proposition System Explained
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, propositions are an entrenched part of California’s political system. In nearly every statewide election, voters wade through a slurry of local and statewide ballot measures, part of a system intended to expand direct democracy. In this cartoon infographic created by Andy Warner, learn how propositions make it onto the ballot and what a referendum is.

Getting the Nomination
In the United States, there are a lot of people who want to be president. But when we vote, there are usually only a few names on the ballot. This video will help students to understand the nomination process for political parties. They will learn how primaries and caucuses help determine the candidate that will best represent a party platform, the role of delegates and super delegates in the election process, and the impact of “Super Tuesday.” This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

The General Election
This animated video helps students to make sense of the American election process by learning how citizens decide who to vote for in the election, the importance of the Electoral College, and how swing states affect the outcomes of an election.  This video is available in both English and Spanish audio, along with corresponding closed captions.

Elections: The Maintenance of Democracy
In this interactive, students determine votes in a mock election based on politicians’ stances on certain issues.

Created Equal
Peter Sagal explores the high ideals of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal,” endowed with “inalienable rights,” that didn’t make it into the Constitution in 1787. The far-reaching changes created by that amendment established new notions of citizenship, equal protection, due process, and personal liberty and today those notions are being used to fight for same sex marriage, voting rights, affirmative action, and immigration reform.

Inside the Voting Booth: Six Election Day Animations 8 March,2017Almetria Vaba

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    RE: The PBS Electoral College video

    The indefensible reality is that more than 99% of campaign attention (ad spending and visits) was showered on voters in just ten states in 2012- and that in today’s political climate, the swing states have become increasingly fewer and fixed.

    Where you live determines how much, if at all, your vote matters.

    The current state-by-state winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes (not
    mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, but later enacted by 48 states), ensures that the candidates, after the conventions, will not reach out to about 80% of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind.

    Presidential candidates concentrate their attention on only a handful of closely divided “battleground” states and their voters. There is no incentive for them to bother to care about the majority of states where they are hopelessly behind or safely ahead to win.

    10 of the original 13 states are ignored now.

    Four out of five Americans were ignored in the 2012 presidential election. After being nominated, Obama visited just eight closely divided battleground states, and Romney visited only 10. These 10 states accounted for 98% of the $940 million spent on campaign advertising. They decided the election.

    Two-thirds (176 of 253) of the general-election campaign events, and a similar fraction of campaign expenditures, were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa).

    None of the 10 most rural states mattered, as usual.

    About 80% of the country was ignored –including 24 of the 27 lowest population and medium-small states, and 13 medium and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX.

    It was more obscene than the 2008 campaign, when candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their campaign events and ad money in just 6 states, and 98% in just 15 states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just 4 states (OH, FL, PA, and VA).

    In 2004, candidates concentrated over 2/3rds of their money and campaign visits in 5 states; over 80% in 9 states; and over 99% of their money in 16 states.

    80% of the states and people have been merely spectators to presidential elections. They have no influence. That’s more than 85 million voters, more than 240 million Americans, ignored. When and where voters are ignored, then so are the issues they care about most.

    The number and population of battleground states is shrinking.

    Minority party voters in each state have their votes counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don’t matter to their candidate. In 2012, 56,256,178
    (44%) of the 128,954,498 voters had their vote diverted by the winner-take-all
    rule to a candidate they opposed (namely, their state’s first-place candidate).

    And now votes, beyond the one needed to get the most votes in the state, for winning in a state are wasted and don’t matter to candidates. Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 “wasted” votes for Bush in 2004. 8 small western states, with less than a third of California’s population, provided Bush with a bigger margin (1,283,076) than California provided Kerry (1,235,659).

    Policies important to the citizens of non-battleground states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.

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    RE: The PBS Electoral College video

    The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers. It is the product of decades of change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The Electoral College is now the set of 538 dedicated party activists, who vote as rubberstamps for presidential candidates. In the current presidential election system, 48 states award all of their electors to the winners of their state. This is not what the Founding Fathers intended.

    The Founding Fathers in the Constitution did not require states to allow their citizens to vote for president, much less award all their electoral votes based upon the vote of their citizens.

    The presidential election system we have today is not in the Constitution

    The current winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the Constitutional Convention. It is not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was not the Founders’ choice. It was used by only three states in 1789, and all three of them repealed it by 1800. It is not entitled to any special deference based on history or the historical meaning of the words in the U.S. Constitution. The actions taken by the Founding Fathers make it clear that they never gave their imprimatur to the winner-take-all method. The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes became dominant only in the 1830s, when most of the Founders had been dead for decades, after the states adopted it, one-by-one, in order to maximize the power of the party in power in each state.

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding a state’s electoral votes.

    As a result of changes in state laws enacted since 1789, the people have the right to vote for presidential electors in 100% of the states, there are no property requirements for voting in any state, and the state-by-state winner-take-all method is used by 48 of the 50 states. States can, and have, changed their method of awarding
    electoral votes over the years.

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    RE: The PBS Electoral College video

    The presidential election system, using the 48 state winner-take-all method or district winner method of awarding electoral votes, that we have today was not designed,
    anticipated, or favored by the Founders. It doesn’t have to be this way in the future.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the majority of Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency, to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the country, by replacing state winner-take-all laws for awarding electoral votes.

    California has enacted the bill.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps of pre-determined outcomes. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states, like California, that now are just ‘spectators,’ taken for granted, and ignored after the conventions.

    The bill would take effect when enacted by states with a majority of Electoral College votes—that is, enough to elect a President (270 of 538). The candidate receiving the most popular votes from all 50 states (and DC) would get all the 270+ electoral votes of the enacting states.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided).

    Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in every state surveyed recently. In virtually every of the 39 states surveyed, overall support has been in the 70-80% range or higher. – in recent or past closely divided battleground states, in
    rural states, in small states, in Southern and border states, in big states, and in other states polled.

    Most Americans don’t ultimately care whether their presidential candidate wins or loses in their state or district . . . they care whether he/she wins the White House. Voters want to know, that even if they were on the losing side, their vote actually was
    equally counted and mattered to their candidate. Most Americans think it would be wrong for the candidate with the most popular votes to lose. We don’t allow this in any other election in our representative republic.

    The bill has passed 33 state legislative chambers in 22 rural, small, medium, large, red, blue, and purple states with 250 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 11 jurisdictions (including California) with 165 electoral votes – 61% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote

    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

Author

Almetria Vaba

Almetria Vaba administers the California edition of PBS LearningMedia, a digital media service for educators from PBS and WGBH. Check it out at: ca.pbslearningmedia.org.

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