Larry Sabato
A More Perfect Constitution

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Over 400,000 Votes Cast in Youth Leadership Initiative's Mock Constitutional Convention
October 14, 2007

More than 40,000 students from schools across the nation learned about the U.S. Constitution and Constitutional change this fall by voting on proposed changes to one of America's founding documents.

Students from across the country cast nearly 430,000 votes over the course of two weeks in the nation's largest, student-only, online mock election, using ballots with suggested amendments to the Constitution. This fall, very few states held federal elections, which gave YLI the chance to do something it had never done before - host a mock election based solely on the Constitution. YLI offered supporting lesson plans on topics such as congressional redistricting, holding a constitutional fair, amending the Constitution, and extending House terms. Students in Louisiana and Mississippi also had the opportunity to vote for their state's governor, and in addition, YLI offered a lesson comparing the gubernatorial candidates in both of those states.

*These lesson plans can be accessed by clicking the links below.

The Youth Leadership Initiative's (YLI) Mock Election program is an activity which offers K-12 educators the opportunity to directly engage students in the excitement of the American electoral process.

The Youth Leadership Initiative is the largest program of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. YLI resources are free for K-12 educators, who are encouraged to visit the YLI website for more information about how to sign up and become a part of a greater effort to increase civic understanding and participation among the nation's youth.

View the results of the YLI 2007 Mock Convention

(adobe reader is required to view the following)

Referenda Fair: Hold a Constitutional Convention
Purpose: The Founding Fathers believed that the Constitution would need to be revised and reworked to meet the changing needs of the country. They would be surprised to know that there hasn’t been another Constitutional Convention despite over two hundred years of history. This lesson plan guides students through an analysis of issues that might be discussed if a Constitutional Convention were held today. Students will create a referendum fair and inform students, community members, and others about the possibility of Constitutional Reform. This activity pairs with YLI’s Democracy Corps program and offers students an opportunity to participate in a service learning project. view now 

Also available in Spanish>

The Plan: Creating a Constitution: A Play in Three Acts
Adapted from Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
Note to teachers: This three act play chronicles the creation of the Constitution from the problems with the Articles of Confederation to the ratification process. view now

What is an Amendment?
Purpose: This lesson will ask students to explore what an amendment is by analyzing the Preamble to the United States Constitution. After defining the term amendment students will be presented with a case study and are asked to think critically about the amendment process. Students will also discuss ways in which the Constitution might be amended to make the phrase, We the People more accurate. This lesson plan complements YLI’s lesson plans, Amending the Constitution: Why Change? and Corresponding with Congressional Leaders. view now

The District of Columbia Voting Rights Movement
Purpose: For over 200 years, the citizens of Washington, DC have had no voting representation in the U.S. Congress. While political movements have afforded voting rights to women, people of color and young people, full voting rights for citizens of the District of Columbia remain unattained. This issue embodies aspects of American tenets of democracy: voting, representation, justice and equality and thus raises interesting and provocative questions for students studying “democracy” in a historical as well as philosophical academic curriculum. Written in conjunction with the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF), this lesson plan provides students the opportunity to analyze the history of the issue and the relevant sections of the U.S. Constitution questioned within the debate, and draw their own conclusions on the issue. view now

The Line–item Veto: A Needed Expansion of Presidential Power?
Purpose: The framers devised the legislative process in Article I Section 7 of the Constitution granting the president the power to “return” or veto bills, and the Congress the ability to override that veto. However, in recent decades with the huge expansion of government spending sometimes without effective accountability, a number of Republicans and Democrats alike have considered giving the president the line-item veto power over appropriations bills. Others worry that giving an already powerful chief executive additional power at the expense of the Congress would have serious repercussions. In this lesson, students will revisit the concepts of separation of powers, and evaluate the benefits and liabilities of a presidential line-item veto. view now

Also view the Line-item Veto Presentation

Public Policy and the Election Cycle: Extending House Terms
Purpose: There is no year in the United States when there is not a major statewide election. Representatives in the House are up for re-election every two years as mandated by the Constitution. As history has progressed the election cycle has gotten shorter and shorter so that a representative must start his/her re-election campaign upon his/her inauguration into office. This lesson introduces students to the election cycle and asks them to analyze the effects of the election cycle on the development of public policy. view now

The Trouble with Elections: Is Public Funding the Answer?
Purpose: Many voters complain that there is a lack of choice among candidates and that the people who should run for office often do not. Should Congress reflect the socio-economic diversity of the people it serves? This lesson guides students in discussing this question as it explores the possibility of public or tax-dollar funding of national elections. A campaign simulation helps students to brainstorm unintended consequences for both sides of the public financing issue. This lesson complements the YLI lesson plan, Special Interest Groups and Political Action Committees: Influences on the Political Process. view now

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Larry J. Sabato
Director of the UVA Center for Politics and
author of
A More Perfect Constitution
Why The Constitution Must Be Revised:
Ideas To Inspire A New Generation

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