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CNN Student News Learning Activity: The Right to Vote

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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about the champions of voting rights in the United States.


Guide a discussion in your classroom about the importance of suffrage, or the right to vote. Point out to your students that initially, only white male property owners could vote in the United States, but that amendments to the Constitution and federal legislation gradually removed barriers to voting. Direct your students to the CNN Student News One-Sheet: Right to Vote, and have each student select a suffrage milestone from the list. Have students research the history of their milestones using the Internet and other sources. Pose the following questions to guide students' research:

  1. Who were the major champions of this milestone or movement?
  2. What compelled them to take up this cause?
  3. What challenges and barriers did they face?
  4. How were they able to overcome these obstacles?

Have each student draw upon his or her research to assume the role of one of the champions in the fight for suffrage. Instruct students to either deliver a first-person account defending a disenfranchised group's right to vote, or present a written editorial supporting the group's cause.


Challenge your students to use original video, music, animation and other production elements to create their own "Talking Democracy" iReports that creatively explain or demonstrate the right to vote. The videos should be three minutes or less in length and can be submitted here. The best videos may appear on CNN Student News!

Correlated Standards


I. What Are The Foundations Of The American Political System?

1. The American idea of constitutional government

7. Fundamental values and principles

8. Conflicts among values and principles in American political and social life

9. Disparities between ideals and reality in American political and social life

V. What Are The Roles Of The Citizen In American Democracy?

1. The meaning of citizenship

2. Becoming a citizen

4. Political rights

8. Civic responsibilities

The National Standards for Civics and Government ( are published by the Center for Civic Education (


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