Municipal Election Lesson 1 - Why Vote

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This is lesson one of seven about municipal elections that I developed and proposed for Student Vote.

This lesson allows students to explore and identify reasons for participating in democratic elections.

Please refer to Municipal Election Lessons Additional Resources for references and supporting information.

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Municipal Election Lesson 1 - Why Vote

  1. 1. Big Idea:Informed participation in local government both stimulates and upholds the principles ofdemocracy.Essential Question:What are the characteristics of an informed Canadian citizen participating in a municipal election orschool board election?Why Vote? Voter Turnout & Our Right and Responsibility to VoteElections enable all citizens to have a voice in the values and actions that will shape theircommunity’s future.Hook 5-10 min.Watch a video clip from The Rick Mercer Report: “Rick’s Rant – Voting 101.” As a class, create anoutline detailing the important points of the video clip.Essential Learning 20-40 min.1. The video clip focuses on voting in elections. As a class, define the term “election” and give examples of elections in which you have participated, the outcomes of these elections, and your perceptions of these experiences. Identify the date and type of upcoming elections in your community.2. Using Handouts 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3, work in pairs to justify why voting should be considered both a right and a responsibility for Canadians. Share your conclusions with the class.3. The video clip questions politicians’ consideration of students during election campaigns. Using Handouts 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, and websites suggested by your teacher, summarize how students can have a voice in your community. Share your conclusions with the class.4. From this set of activities, review what you have discussed and learned about the importance of participating in elections.Extended Learning 25-45 min.Option A:Begin the construction of a portfolio in which assignments, news articles, campaign information,and reflections can be kept to demonstrate your knowledge and thoughts about democracy andabout the upcoming municipal and school board elections. Consider whether your portfolio will bein physical or digital format.Option B:Brainstorm characteristics of an effective democracy, and use these characteristics to arrange aseries of images that depict effective democracy in a community. Add captions to explain howeffective democracy is being represented in each image. Consider composing your own images,collecting images from print media, or creating a digital gallery using Flickr.Option C:Brainstorm qualities of a healthy democracy, and use these characteristics to explain what ahealthy democracy looks like. Consider framing your explanation as a dramatic presentation,essay, news article, oral presentation, poster, or in another manner approved by your teacher.Option D:Writing from the point of view of a teacher, mayor, or school board trustee addressing parents atyour school, compose a letter or speech explaining why it is important for students to learn aboutelections. Consider performing this dialogue or sharing it with your family.
  2. 2. Key Termsaction; community; constitution; democracy; election; informed; participation; principle;responsibility; right; value; youth turnoutEssential QuestionsWhy should voting be considered both a right and a responsibility?How can I “have a voice” in my community?What are the characteristics of a democracy?Why should I pay attention to elections now if I cannot legally vote?Teacher PreparationEnsure access to “Voting 101” online videoSelect teaching strategies for essential learning activitiesMake class copies of required handoutsBook computer lab, if desiredPreview websites to be used for class activities, if desired (see chapter on Additional Resources)Select extended learning activity and teaching strategies, if desiredAssessmentStudents should provide evidence that they are able to clearly define and give examples of rights,responsibilities, and democracy and that they are able to articulate why democracy is personallysignificant.
  3. 3. Handout 1.1: Democracy DefinitionsComplete the following statements. You may need the help of a friend, dictionary, orencyclopedia.An election isExamples of elections I have participated in areThe next elections occurring in my community will beA democracy isA dictatorship isA direct democracy isAn example of direct democracy is whenA representative democracy isAn example of representative democracy isA right isA responsibility isA community isComplete Handout 1.2 before completing these last two statements.Voting is a right and a responsibility becauseAn election is
  4. 4. Handout 1.2: Rights & ResponsibilitiesConsider the pros, cons, and responsibilities that go along with being granted certain rights. Usingthe first row as an example, complete the table below. Use the Canadian Charter of Rights andFreedoms as well as the information that you have recorded above to brainstorm reasons whyvoting is a right and a responsibility. Use your notes to summarize why voting is both a right and aresponsibility.Right Pro Con ResponsibilityYou have the right to It is important to have Sometimes friends can You must stay true tochoose your own good friends you trust pressure you to do yourself and makefriends at school things you would not decisions based on otherwise do your own comfort and not somebody else’sYou have the right to You must be respectful You must take intospeak in class of others and consideration the determine if your appropriateness or opinions can be hurtful truthfulness of to others opinions you hold when sharing those opinions in classYou have the right to a You can take risks,safe classroom push yourself to be the best you can be, and you will not be bullied or made fun of by othersWhat is a right thatyou have at home, atschool, or withfriends?What is your rightregarding voting?
  5. 5. Handout 1.3: Canadian Charter of Rights and FreedomsFundamental Fundamental rights include: the freedom of conscience and religion*;Rights freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media**; freedom of peaceful assembly***; and freedom of association.****Democratic Democratic rights include: the right for every Canadian, 18 years of age orRights older, to vote in an election, to be a candidate; the requirement that no government will continue for longer than five years without holding an election; and that these governments meet at least once every year to pass laws.Mobility Mobility rights include: the right of every Canadian to choose to work andRights live in any province or territory in Canada; and the right of every Canadian to live in, leave, and re-enter Canada whenever he or she chooses.Legal Legal rights guarantee that Canadians, when arrested, must: be told ofRights their right to see a lawyer; be tried within a reasonable amount of time; and be presumed innocent until proven guilty.Equality It is against the law in Canada to discriminate against any Canadian on theRights basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, or mental or physical ability.Official Languages All Canadians have the right to use either English or French inOf Canada communications with Canada’s federal government and some of Canada’s provincial governments.Minority Language This right guarantees that French and English minorities in every provinceEducation Rights have the right to be educated in their own language.* This means that Canadians are free to worship the religion of their choice or to not worship at all.** This means that unless the media report something that is untrue, the media cannot beprevented from reporting anything that happens inside Canada.*** This means that Canadians can meet as a group in private or public provided that it is done soin a non-violent and peaceful way.**** This means that Canadians have the right to associate or befriend anyone they choose andthe government does not have the right to limit these associations.
  6. 6. Handout 1.4: A Voice in My CommunityUse the provided resources to come up with ways that you can have a voice in your community.From this source of I learned that there is a need Therefore, I can have a voice ininformation… for… my community by… I learned that other students have…
  7. 7. Handout 1.5: Municipal Election TurnoutA total of 3,125,883 of the 8,098,294 qualified electors in the municipalities participating in theAssociation of Municipal Managers, Clerks, and Treasurers of Ontario survey voted in the November2006 municipal elections. This yields a weighted average turnout rate of 38.6%. The simpleaverage rate, calculated by adding up all the individual turnout rates and dividing this by the totalnumber of municipalities participating in the survey, was 41.9%. The discrepancy is explained bythe fact that smaller municipalities generally had higher turnout rates than more populous ones.The table below shows the simple averages by population size.The highest municipal turnout rate was 80.3%, the lowest, 7.8%. % Turnout by Population in 2006 Municipal Election
  8. 8. Handout 1.6: Provincial & Federal Election Turnout Historical Voter Turnout in Ontario Provincial General Elections Since 1971 General Date Number of Total Voter % of Eligible Voters List Election No. Seats Turnout 29 1971 - 10 - 21 117 3 310 776 73.5 30 1975 - 09 - 18 125 3 324 334 67.8 31 1977 - 06 - 09 125 3 361 433 65.6 32 1981 - 03 - 19 125 3 203 281 58.0 33 1985 - 05 - 02 125 3 662 133 61.5 34 1987 - 09 - 10 130 3 803 969 62.7 35 1990 - 09 - 06 130 4 070 654 64.4 36 1995 - 06 - 08 130 4 200 522 63.0 37 1999 - 06 - 03 103 4 430 611 63.0 38 2003 - 10 - 02 103 4 528 167 56.8 39 2007 - 10 - 10 107 4 457 829 52.1 Turnout by Age Group in the 2004 and 2006 Federal General Elections
  9. 9. Handout 1.7: Volunteering in Ontario % Volunteers by Type of Volunteer Activity % of Volunteering Population and Average Hours Volunteered by Type of Organization % Volunteers Reporting Motivations for Volunteering

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