In about half the world—mostly those where people live under socialism, communism, dictators, or autocracies—law and order are defined for people. In 1700, when the brand new United States of America, recently freed from British aristocratic rule relying on kings and queens, wrote its first constitution and was pro-rights, they decided to establish a system of government from the people. Dubbed “The Great Experiment,” the Founders empowered ordinary citizens—such as farmers, shopkeepers, laborers, and seamstresses—to elect the people who would protect America’s shores, our liberties, and our way of life.

Over two hundred years after that mandate, it is still unclear whether it will work. In 1850, Abraham Lincoln warned:

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their backs on the fire and burn their behinds, then they’ll just have to sit on their blisters.

One hundred years later, Gore Vidal lamented:

“Half of Americans have never read a newspaper. Half have never voted for president. Hopefully it’s the same half.”

Winston Churchill called democracy “…the worst form of government, except all those other forms which have been tried from time to time…”. In short, it’s messed up.

Still, every four years, Americans must make critical choices that will shape our nation’s democracy. Citizens are expected to research their options and then vote for the candidates best qualified to fulfill the country’s goals. Thomas Jefferson called education a “…a vital necessity for our survival as a free people.”

This year, on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, we will elect every one of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, a third of the hundred senators, and the most powerful position in the country, the President. I have curated a list of websites to provide students with a basic knowledge of the electoral process that will prepare them for the day they are asked to vote and decide the future. The first few explain the choices in general, and the next ones teach the process through gamification.

website, radio app, podcast

C-Span gives Americans live access to the floor-to-floor proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, as well as other forums where public policy is discussed, debated and decided—all without editing, commentary, talking heads , ads or analytics and with a balanced presentation of viewpoints. Also included are direct access to elected and appointed officials, audience calls to officials, audience-created videos, lesson plans for educators, and more.

For faculty and students, C-Span is as close to the primary source as possible without actually attending these government events. During the election, C-Span will air both conventions and let viewers draw their own conclusions.

C-Span resources can be accessed directly from the website or via a downloadable radio app, iTunes, iPhone, Android or Blackberry.


From Commoncraft, this YouTube video is a quick guide to understanding the US election process. It’s not meant to be an in-depth discussion about the election, but a quick video review that touches on all the important points with enough humor to keep over 1.6 million viewers watching. It is part of Commoncraft’s Education series. Some are free; many require a subscription.

easy to understand video in plain language

It’s a four-minute video that demystifies the Electoral College – as much as possible – by explaining the role it plays in a representative democracy like America’s. It includes interesting details that most people haven’t considered, such as what about out-of-state people, D.C. residents, and those who live in US territories

web based game

Choose the questions to be asked in a presidential debate, and then listen to the two candidates’ answers. Based on what you hear, evaluate the candidates and decide how important this issue is in your presidential decision matrix. Ultimately, you will vote for one of the candidates based on your analysis of their answers. You can participate in the process incognito (without logging in) or from your iCivics account. You can also play this through BrainPop (with or without a subscription) which provides advanced options to extend your learning and test your knowledge.

Cast your vote is part of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s award-winning gamification of often confusing civil processes to make them understandable for young learners. Games of iCivics website address elections, court decisions, legislative processes, constitutional topics, etc. Each game is 15-30 minutes long and includes teacher resources, badges, participant leaderboards (for registered users) and in some cases webquests.

web based game

This is another game from iCivics designed to teach students how candidates strive for the White House. Gamers can manage their own presidential campaign through strategic fundraising, polling voters, launching media campaigns and making personal appearances. As they battle their opponent for electoral votes and public support, they can keep a close eye on the map to see if they are winning. The game includes resources for teachers and related standards.

When played through BrainPop, Win the White House includes quizzes (and other assessment ideas), opportunities to delve deeper into related topics, lesson ideas, game guides, tips and lessons, and standards-aligned lesson plans.


Best Classroom Strategy: Post all of these resources on an optional themed page. Let students choose the ones that best suit their learning style.

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Jackie Murray teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over one hundred technical resources, including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 Keyboard Curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship Curriculum. She is an Assistant Professor of Technology, Head Teacher, Webmaster of four blogs, Amazon Vine VoiceCSTA presentation reviewer, freelance tech journalist and tech thriller writer, To hunt a submarine and Twenty-four days. You can find her resources at Structured training.

6 Websites that Explain Elections