Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Every Vote Counts

Brenda Heath


This is a multi-phase activity designed to increase student awareness and participation in the voting process.


The student produces final documents that have been edited for: correct spelling; correct punctuation, including commas, colons, and common use of semicolons; correct capitalization; correct sentence formation; correct instances of possessives, subject/verb agreement, instances of noun/pronoun agreement, and the intentional use of fragments for effect; and correct formatting that appeals to readers, including appropriate use of a variety of graphics, tables, charts, and illustrations in both standard and innovative forms.

The student writes fluently for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes, making appropriate choices regarding style, tone, level of detail, and organization.

Interprets data that has been collected, organized, and displayed in charts, tables, plots.

The student knows the points at which citizens can monitor or influence the process of public policy formation.


-Writing utensils
-Word processing and spreadsheet programs such as MS Word and MS Excel
-Internet access


Supply a printout of information to be obtained from the Supervisor of Elections' office and sample questions to be included in the surveys. Also, bookmark possible Internet sites for the students to use in research. (See suggested Weblinks.) Students need to be instructed in the use of word processing and spreadsheet programs if they are unfamiliar with them.
Some students may need basic computer instruction. It would probably be a good idea to provide a sample letter for students to consider when writing their legislators.


This lesson is far more interesting for students in an election year. As a springboard for this lesson, in the absence of an election, you can generate your own! Tell students that each class has a set of officers. The class determines the offices and the criteria for holding those offices. The class also establishes criteria for voting in the class elections. A group of students develops a ballot; another group is formed to handle distribution of the ballots; and a third group of students is formed to serve as the counting committee for the ballots. Prior to voting, a ballot box (or some other receptacle) is designated. Ballots are distributed and students given time to vote. The counting committee takes the ballots from the box and uses a tally sheet with each candidate's name on it, to count the votes. After votes have been counted, the winners are announced and debriefed. In the follow-up discussion, make sure that the the number of eligible voters and the number of votes actually cast are compared. After this process, the connection to real-life voting is made by any or all of the following activities:

I. Students call or visit the Supervisor of Elections' office to obtain the following information:
a. What are the qualifications for voting in the State of Florida?
b. How does one register to vote?
c. How is one's polling place determined?
d. If a student registered to vote, where would he/she actually vote?
e. When is the next primary/general election?
f. Is Florida an open or closed primary state?
g. Complete a sample voter registration form (better yet, if a student qualifies, have him/her complete the real thing!)

II. Students develop and conduct a survey of a minimum of twenty individuals aged 18 or older. The survey should include, but is not limited to the following:
a. Are you registered to vote?
b. If no, why not?
c. If you are registered, are you registered as a Democrat, Republican, or other (specify, if possible)?
d. Did you vote in the last election?
e. If no, why not?
f. Can you make any suggestions to improve voter registration and/or participation?

III. Students tally the information generated from the survey. They present the information in graphic form. Students may draw their own graphs or use the computer to generate graphs. If they choose to use the computer, they need to compile the information using a computer spreadsheet program, such as MS Excel, and then convert it to a chart.

IV. Students consider the information obtained in the survey, and engage in other research via the internet and printed media. The students choose one strategy to improve voter registration or participation and compose a letter to the student's State legislator promoting this strategy. After any necessary corrections, the letter is sent electronically to the appropriate State legislator.


Every Vote Counts!
1. The student researches, organizes and composes a letter to a State legislator promoting a method to improve participation in the voting process.

Exemplary--letter is clear, concise, and free of errors; is thoughtful; is acceptable to be sent to legislator

Commendable--letter is reasonable with few errors; may be sent to legislator after minor corrections

Needs Work--letter is rambling; contains errors; may not be sent to legislator at this time

2. The student develops a survey, gathers and synthesizes information from the survey, and interprets data in charts, tables.

Exemplary--survey is concise and contains all required information; more than 20 individuals are surveyed; results are accurately compiled and presented in a clear, understandable format; information is neat and visually pleasing; and interpreted with logical conclusions based on data collected.

Commendable--survey is complete; at least 20 people are surveyed; results are accurately compiled and presented; information is understandable; information is neatly presented; and information is interpreted based on data collected.

Needs Work--survey is incomplete; less than 20 individuals are surveyed; tally of results is inaccurate or incomplete; presentation of information is messy; and information presented is unclear or interpretation is inconsistent with findings.

3. The student obtains accurate information from the Supervisor of Elections Office.

Exemplary--Items 1 through 6 are correctly answered and item 7 is accurately completed.

Commendable--Most of items 1 through 6 are correctly answered; most of item 7 is accurately answered.

Needs Work--several of items 1 through 6 are incompletely or incorrectly answered ; item 7 is incomplete.


This could be linked to:
a Language Arts unit related to letter-writing;
a Math unit dealing with statistics or graphing;
any subject area infusing the use of computer software to generate charts and graphs;
any unit using the internet.

Any part of this activity could be deleted to save time, or to better meet the needs of the students involved.

This could relate to Math, Sociology, or Business programs. This could be used in either American Government or American History in a study of various elections, voting behavior, or civil rights and liberties, for example. The activity may be down-sized to include fewer survey questions and individuals surveyed, and the graphing segment may be deleted, if needed.

Web Links

Web supplement for Every Vote Counts
Online Sunshine-The Florida Legislature

Learn more about the various branches of Florida government.
The Official Government Portal of the State of Florida

Learn about absentee ballot status, polling place, or voter registration for the state of Florida.
Florida Division of Elections

This is a link to contact any member of Congress, regardless of the state in which one lives.
Contacting the Congress

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