Have fun with gerrymandering while teaching students Oregon's unique election process and comparing it to federal elections.
Two 55-minute class periods
Student will be able to describe the election process in Oregon.
HS. 27: Examine functions and process of United States government.
HS. 26 (for extension activity): Define and compare/contrast United States republican government to direct democracy, socialism, communism, theocracy, oligarchy.
HS.32: Examine and evaluate documents and decisions related to the Constitution and Supreme Court decisions (e.g., Federalist Papers, Constitution, Marbury v. Madison, Bill of Rights, Constitutional amendments, Declaration of Independence).
HS.57: Define, research, and explain an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon and its significance to society.
HS.59: Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.61: Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon, identifying characteristics, influences, causes, and both short- and long-term effects.
HS.62: Propose, compare, and judge multiple responses, alternatives, or solutions to issues or problems; then reach an informed, defensible, supported conclusion.
HS.63: Engage in informed and respectful deliberation and discussion of issues, events, and ideas.
Oregon Common Core State Standards
Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies
1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
Theme V: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions; VI: Power, Authority, and Governance; X: Civic Ideals and Practices
- Teacher background handout Lesson 5
- Student handout 1: “The Election Process”
- Student handout 2: Congressional Map of Georgia during Miller v. Johnson
- Student handout 3: Congressional Map of North Carolina during Shaw v. Reno
- Student handout 4: Blank Oregon Map
- Student handout 5: Oregon Proposed Congressional District Plan
- Student handout 6: Oregon Population Districts
- Student handout 7: OR Census Data (Excel)
- Links to help with voting research:
Oregon Blue Book (“Oregon Elections Process and History”): sos.oregon.gov/blue-book/Pages/state-elections.aspx
- Links to help with redistricting and gerrymandering exercise:
- Shaw v. Reno: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1992/92-357
- Miller v. Johnson: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1994/94-631
- Maps of State senate and representative districts:
- Map of Congressional districts: sos.oregon.gov/blue-book/Pages/national-representatives.aspx
- Blank Map of Oregon:
- Introduce the concept of
federalism (see teacher background handout) by learning about qualifiers in the election process ranging from the federal level to the local level by completing a semantic feature analysis (see student handout titled
The Election Process).
- This can be done individually, as a group activity, or class discussion.
- There have been some qualifiers which will be no for all, but were listed to stimulate class discussion (i.e. landowner, undocumented worker, legal immigrant).
- Research the election process in
Oregon Blue Book. Students will learn how to register in the Oregon election process (see student handout titled "The Election Process").
- Introduce the concepts of redistricting and gerrymandering and have the students look at the US Supreme Court case
Miller v. Johnson (1995) or
Shaw v. Reno (1993). This will demonstrate how gerrymandering can be used as a tool to deny civil rights.
- Using maps of Oregon voting districts, students will examine how gerrymandering works and determine why it may be drawn in that manner. Additionally, students will simulate the process of gerrymandering by working together as a class to come to a consensus of how they feel the lines should be drawn for Oregon’s five Congressional districts and then compare it to the way the map is actually drawn. As a guide to help develop the district lines student can go to
https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml to access social characteristics, economic characteristics, housing characteristics, and demographic estimates for cities throughout Oregon. In order to get the information, students should put the town and state (i.e. Salem, OR) in the “Fast Access to Information” box. Additionally, students can use the “Oregon Population Districts” PDF document and the demographics from the State House of Representative districts located on the “OR Census Data” Excel document as an aid in the development of the five new Congressional districts.
Compare the election process in Oregon to other states and countries. For example, compare the election process in Oregon to the election process in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Teacher Background Handout
Federalism is a system of dividing powers between member units and common institutions. For example, the United States incorporates a government in which sovereignty is divided between the national and state governments.
Federal elections for the President and Vice-President are held once every four years, on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
Each state holds a primary election.
- Conducted by mail. Voters who are registered as of the 21st day before an election are mailed a ballot to vote and return by election day. You can vote in person if preferred or if in need of assistance.
- Voting Dates
- Second Tuesday in March
- Third Tuesday in May
- Third Tuesday in September
- First Tuesday after the first Monday in November
- Primary Elections
- It is not required to select a political party when you register, but major political parties require you to be registered as a member of their party in order to vote for their candidates in the primary election.
- Major political parties (Democratic & Republican) choose who they want to run for office by having a Primary Election.
- The Primary Election is held every even-numbered year on the third Tuesday in May.
- If you are registered as a member of a major political party, you can vote in that party’s Primary Election.
- Sometimes a major political party will open its Primary Election to voters who are not registered as a member of any political party (non-affiliated voters). Non-affiliated voters will be notified by mail if a party opens its Primary Election. If neither major political party opens its Primary Election, all non-affiliated voters will automatically receive a ballot with all measures and nonpartisan contests (for example: judges, district attorneys, etc.).
- How to register
- Can register by mail
- Must be a resident of Oregon and be able to answer “yes” to the following questions on the voter registration card:
- Are you a citizen of the United States of America?
- Are you at least 17 years of age? (Note: if you are 17 years old, you will not receive a ballot until an election occurs on or after your 18th birthday.)
- If a new registrant in the state, must provide identifying information. Must provide a current, valid Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicles Driver License or identification card. If the individual does not have one of these, the last four digits of the individual’s social security number must be provided. If the individual does not have any of these, she or he must affirm this and, if registering by mail, must provide a copy of one of the following:
- Valid photo identification
- Paycheck stub
- Utility bill
- Bank statement
- Government document, or
- Proof of eligibility under the Uniformed Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act or the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act.
Redistricting: The process of redrawing the boundary of congressional districts in a state. Usually takes place once a decade, after the census.
Gerrymandering: When the state redraws the districts to benefit one political party over another.
The party in control of the state legislature when redistricting takes place usually controls redistricting plan.
Impact of Gerrymandering: Led to a large amount of congressional seats safe to reelection for a specific political party (i.e. 98% of incumbents won reelection in 2002).
The Election Process
- Identify which qualifiers are necessary in each of the levels of voting by marking the appropriate boxes. For example, if it is necessary to be a citizen of the USA to vote in the presidential election put “yes” in the Federal (general) under Citizen of USA, etc. Additionally, for the last two (Registration Deadline and Date Vote), identify when the process must be completed (For example, Tuesday after the first Monday in November).
Citizen of USA
Resident of Oregon
Resident of local community
Declare Party Affiliation
At least 18 years of age
- How do you register to vote in Oregon?
- What documentation is needed to vote in Oregon?
Sample Lesson Handouts
Only a sampling of lesson materials are provided here. To view all lesson materials, please click the Download Lesson 5 Materials button at the top of the page.
Shaw v. Reno
Congressional District 12 (North Carolina)
Johnson v. Miller
Congressional District 11 (Georgia)