The Political Process: Elections, Voting, Political Parties

Read the following SOL study maps to preview the lessons of this unit.
1. CE5a Political Parties Functions

Political parties play a key role in government and provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process.

2. CE5b Similarities and Differences Between Parties Same/Different
A two party system characterizes the American political process.
Although third parties rarely win elections, they can play an important role in public politics.
3. CE5c Evaluating Political Campaigns and the Role of Media Campaigns
Voters evaluate information presented in political campaigns to make reasoned choices among candidates.
4. CE5d Rising Campaign Costs Costs
Running for political office is expensive.
5. CE5e Voting Vote
Voting is a basic responsibility of citizenship.
Voter registration is required before a citizen may vote.
The number of citizens who register and vote is related to how important election issues are to citizens.
6. CE5f The Electoral College Process
The Electoral College consists of the electors appointed by each state who formally elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Since 1964, there have been 538 electors in each presidential election.[1] Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution specifies how many electors each state is entitled to have and that each state's legislature decides how its electors are to be chosen. U.S. territories are not represented in the Electoral College. The Electoral College is an example of an indirect election, as opposed to a direct election by United States citizens.
The Electoral College process is used to select the president and vice president of the United States.

Vocabulary: Click on the links to copy definitions of the important words in this unit. Copy the first sentence unless your teacher gives other directions.

1. Political Party Party

2. Political Action Committees (PACs) PAC

3. Special Interest Groups Special

4. Third Party Third

5. Republican Party (Copy the first three sentences.) Republican

6. Democratic Party (Copy the first three sentences.) Democratic

7. mass media Media

8. propaganda Influence

9. editorials Opinion

10. op-ed articles Op-ed

11. fundraising funds

12. campaign finance reform Finance

13. issue oriented interest groups Groups

14. registrar registration

15. voter apathy apathy

16. DMV voter registration DMV

17. voting precinct vote

18. primary election primary

19. general election (Scroll to "general election" for the definition.) general

20. electors electors

21. popular vote vote

22. winner take all system system

23. Congressional representation Congress

24. majority vote majority

Political Parties: What are the two major parties in the U. S. and what are their opinions?

1. Write the description of each party in your notebook by copying the first paragraph in each link.

Republican Party: Republican Democratic Party: Democratic

We currently have a loosely organized group known as the Tea Party that has been affecting national politics. This group acts as a third party, although they are not fully organized in political party form. Add their description to your notes. Tea Party Tea

Research each party's opinions by clicking on the "Issues" links found below. Make a T-chart to compare them. Write the name of a party and draw its popular symbol at the top of the chart. List each party's opinion on the issues in the column below its name. Follow the example shown below.


Republican Issues: Republicans

Democratic Issues: Democrats

On the back of the page that you made above, write the title, Tea Party. Use this link to find out this party's opinion on current issues. Write them below the title on your paper. Look under the section of the link titled, "What Is the Tea Party." Tea Party

What do you think of the opinions of the political parties? Write YOUR opinion of them across the bottom of the front of your paper.

Political Campaigns: What does it take to run for office? Brainstorm a list of the items needed by a candidate to run. Estimate how much money they would need to provide everything needed to run for office. Then click on this link to see just how much was spent in the last presidential election. $$$$

Some things you see on the link may surprise you. First of all, the candidates spent a LOT of money! To know where it came on, click on each candidate's picture. Secondly, there are a LOT of candidates. Discuss them with your teacher or research them on the computer.

You can form small groups to research each of the parties shown in the $$$$ link above. Each group should report their findings to the whole class.

PACS: Many of the candidates you researched above have PACS listed as sources of income for their campaigns. Use the internet to find out which PACS supported the different candidates. Click on this link to find out which groups backed the candidates. Sectors of Support

Register to vote. Use the form found below. What information do you have to give in order to be a registered voter? Where do you go to register? It was in the definition link found above!


How many people voted in Virginia? Read the chart below. The numbers don't look too good, do they? However, in many election years the percentage of people voting can be as low as 36% for general elections. Can you explain why they are as high as they are in this chart? Why would the percent of people registered to vote be 74%?


Read the political cartoon about voting. What is the cartoonist saying about voters? Why don't people vote? What would you say to the people represented by this cartoon?


Political Cartoon Activity: Use the form found below to analyze a political cartoon. Cut one out of the paper, find one on the internet, or use one given to you by your teacher. Fill out the questions on the form by answering them on your own sheet of notebook paper.


Review this unit by playing the games listed below.
1. Parties and Elections Flashcards Cards
2. Role of Parties Role
3. Parties and Elections match up elect
4. Parties and PACS fun quiz PACS
5. Parties and Campaigns Big Matching
6. Mini Quiz Voting
7. Walk the Plank Elections Plank
8. Hoops Game Hoops
9. Soccer Review! Let's face it. This is the REAL sport!
10. Grade or No Grade Good Game
11. Fling the Teacher Fling
12. More Hoops Review More