Each November, political candidates take to the airwaves, plan town hall meetings, and go door to door looking for votes. The Elections A to Z Unit Study covers the history of elections and how they work in the United States.
Using online resources to complete the election unit, students will research the election process and learn about the process of voting for our political leaders.
You can use the questions on this page to create your own election unit study pages if you are not a newsletter subscriber, or you can subscribe at the link below and download the PDF version.
Visit the Elections page for more election resources.
Elections Unit Study
- When are state elections are held?
- How is the date of elections chosen?
- Based on your research, what is the earliest date in the fall state and local elections can be held?
- What is the latest date?
Bonus question: Why do you think our forefathers chose this time of year for elections? If you cannot find out in your research, think of some reasons on your own. Write a paragraph to explain yourself.
- Define the word suffrage.
- Who is allowed to vote in an election?
- Who is NOT allowed to vote in an election?
- How can citizens in your state register to vote?
- How can citizens in your state cast their vote?
- When will you be eligible to vote? (day/month/year)
Bonus activity: Find and download a voter registration form for your state.
- A – Absentee Ballot
- B – Ballot Box
- C – Chad
- D – Delegate
- E – Executive Branch
- F – Federal Republic
- G – Gerrymander
- H – House of Representatives
- I – Initiative
- J – Judicial Branch
- K – Key Management
- L – Legislative Branch
- M – Majority Vote
- N – Nominee
- O – Office-Block Ballot
- P – Platform
- Q – Quorum
- R – Recall election
- S – Senators
- T – Term
- U – Unofficial results, Unicameral Legislature
- V – Voter Registration
- W – Washington D.C.
- X – eXit Polls
- Y – Yellow Dog Democrat
- Z – Zoning
President of the United States
For more on the office of the president, see our All About the Presidents unit study.
- How often are presidential elections?
- How long is a presidential term?
- Who is the current president?
- What are the qualifications to be president?
- What is the electoral college & how does it work?
Bonus activity: Do a report on a president of your choice (see our President Report).
Congress of the United States
The national government of the United States utilizes three main branches. They are the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Each state sends elected officials to go to Washington, D.C., to represent the people in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Together they are called the Congress.
- What are the elected officials in the Senate called?
- For how long are they elected to serve?
- How many serve from your state?
- Who currently represents your state in the Senate?
- What are the qualifications to run for a Senate seat?
- What are the elected officials in the House of Representatives called?
- For how long do they serve?
- How many serve from your state?
- Who currently represents your state in the House of Representatives?
- What are the qualifications to run for a House of Representative seat?
State governments are run independent of the national government. Each state has created its own organization of government.
- List the Branches of Government in your state.
- List some of the elected positions at the state level for each of these branches.
- List the main responsibility of each of the branches of government.
- Select one elected position from each branch of government for your state, list who is currently serving in that position and the requirements he/she needed to be elected. Be sure to include the term limits and any qualifications one would need to run for this office.
- On a blank piece of paper, draw an outline of the branches of government to include all the information you have discovered.
- List three elected positions in your county/parish or city/town.
- What do people in these elected positions do?
- What are the qualifications for running for office with these elected positions?
- Who currently holds these positions? How long does the elected official serve in the office?
- Do these positions fit into the three branches of government you discovered at the national and the state level? Why or why not?
Fill in the blanks:
- People who are running for election for a position in government are called ____________.
- The elected official currently in office that is up for re-election is called the __________.
- The person seeking to be elected in an election but does not currently hold the job is called the ___________.
- One thing all people running for election to a government office have in common is that they are all _________.
- All the voters in a particular district are called __________.
Word Bank: candidates, challenger, citizens, constituents, incumbent
- List ways candidates can advertise that are interested in being elected.
- What is election litter?
- What are the legal ways in which to use election materials in your state.
Bonus activity: Look up the Citizens United U.S Supreme Court case and write a paragraph about the decision and how it impacted election advertising.
Casting your vote
Voting methods vary in both individual states and local election districts. Originally people voted by voice vote or paper ballot, but technology has brought changes. List ways that people can vote today.
What’s on your ballot?
Each election, voters decide the fate of candidates and issues on their ballot. However, voters around the state will use different ballots because of differing district and local candidates and issues. For a complete list of what candidates and issues will appear on your local ballot, consult your local county or parish board of elections. Create your own ballot (download a sample if available).