It’s Your Right—Why Voting Matters is an effort led by Secretary Merrill in conjunction with teachers, partner organizations, and other individuals with an interest in bringing the historic struggle to protect our voting rights alive in the classroom. This is a unit designed to fit into Connecticut’s statutorily required high school civics curriculum. It gives background on the history and progress of voting rights in America, the struggles that have led to that progress, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and court cases affecting voting rights.
The unit contains interactive activities for teachers and students, culminating in a voter registration activity. With the help of local teachers, we will align the unit with Common Core standards. The unit has five sections:
- Section 1: Who are Voters?—Covers the history and stages of voting rights, how the law defines voter, and suffrage for various groups including African Americans, women, young people, Native Americans and immigrants.
- Section 2: Institutional and Technical Processes of Voting—Covers voting and ballot technology; referendums, primary and general elections; voting systems including absentee voting, early voting and all-mail elections; and the court cases that have led to changes in voting systems.
- Section 3: Culture of Voting—Covers public opinion polling and media literacy, including how the media and special interest groups influence elections, identifying reliable resources, and more.
- Section 4: Electoral and Voter Behavior—Covers voter trends over time, election strategies to attract and target voters, protecting your right to vote, and the controversy over voter identification laws.
- Concluding Activity: Voter Registration
This project is the result of the combined efforts of the Office of the Secretary of the State, Civics First, and Connecticut teachers. Perhaps the most important partner in the project is Alysia Siciliano who, in her role as a graduate intern with the Secretary of the State, managed the project at all steps, including composing much of the material. As a Graduate Student within Trinity College's Public Policy Program and former intern at the Office of the Secretary of the State, Alysia Siciliano has played a key role in the creation of the "It's Your Right- Why Voting Matters Curriculum." In August 2014, Ms. Siciliano was one of the presenters of the curriculum at the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework Professional Development Conference. While simultaneously working for the Hartford Board of Education, she is currently performing her Master's Degree final project, "Increasing Civic Engagement: Revising Civic Curriculum in Connecticut", based upon the curriculum. Within her study, Ms. Siciliano will address whether the implementation of a civics curriculum at the high school level can increase the potential for civic engagement among youths across the state. Additionally, she will be looking at the National Council for Social Studies Standards, the new Connecticut C3 framework, and civics education requirements throughout the nation.
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