NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret key issues
in current events. This activity anticipates one class period, but the follow-up
essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Up: Use initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much
your students know.
Activity: Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the
questions on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the issues outlined
in the story affect their lives and express and debate different opinions.
Students can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views
and send it to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions and/or
Three Reasons Why Election Day May Not Decide the Election, 10/27/04
1. What happened in Florida during the 2000 presidential election?
Should we expect a similar situation this year?
What could happen to disrupt this election?
Comprehension Questions: (click here for
1. Why was a recount ordered in Florida after the 2000 presidential election?
2000 fracas centered on Florida, where an amazingly close vote triggered a chaotic
recount process. The nation watched and waited as election officials held up ballots
to the light to try and discern how people intended to vote. Over 22,000 ballots
were thrown out because holes were punched for more than one candidate or no candidate
was selected at all.
Who made the final decision about who would be president?
fight over how to count the ballots ended up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court ruled 5-4 to end a second recount, and George W. Bush won the state
by only 537 votes. That narrow victory, out of nearly 6 million votes cast, awarded
the state's 25 electoral votes, and with them the presidency, to Mr. Bush.
What is Amendment 36 in Colorado?
Colorado a new measure on the ballot asks voters to decide whether the state will
abandon the winner-take-all system and instead become the first state in the country
to allocate its electoral votes proportionately based on the popular vote.
is worth nine of the 538 votes in the Electoral College. At the moment, whichever
candidate wins the popular vote wins all nine electoral votes. Under the proposed
system, a candidate who receives 40 percent of the popular vote for example would
get four electoral votes, while the candidate with 60 percent of the vote gets
How might Amendment 36 affect the outcome of the election?
the Colorado initiative does become law and the race between President Bush and
Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., comes down to the wire, a split in Colorado's nine
electoral votes could decide the winner. If Colorado had split its votes in 2000,
Al Gore would have been president.
of the measure say they will appeal it in court if it does get passed, a threat
that could delay the final outcome.
What is happening in Ohio that may delay election results?
the most contentious state is Ohio. Considered a key battleground state by both
parties, Democrats and Republicans are questioning the eligibility of some of
the state's registered voters and the accuracy of the state's voter registration
Republicans have filed 35,000 petitions against what they say are ineligible voters,
according to The Washington Post. They are sending representatives to polling
sites to challenge such voters, which could stall the process.
What is a "provisional ballot?"
passed HAVA to prevent voter disenfranchisement. As part of the act, voters are
now allowed to cast "provisional ballots," ballots that can be counted
after Election Day if a voter has been mistakenly left off the registration list.
rule is meant to prevent what happened in 2000, when voters who thought they'd
registered showed up on Election Day and were told they could not vote.
What is the controversy over provisional ballots?
Florida and 28 other states, officials say they will throw out any provisional
ballots cast in the wrong precinct. Opponents of this rule, mostly Democrats,
argue it unfairly affects minorities, traditionally Democrats, who move more often
than other voters, according to stateline.org., a nonpartisan Web site.
filed in Florida to open up provisional voting to a voter's county rather than
limiting it to a person's immediate precinct have failed in court but could lead
to appeals after the election.
Why is South Charleston, WV, Mayor Richie Robb making news?
add to the brewing storm, a West Virginia elector, dissatisfied with the current
administration, recently said he might not vote for President Bush even if he
wins the state's popular vote.
is an implied duty to vote for your party's candidate," South Charleston
Mayor Richie Robb told the Associated Press. "But I don't think it's an explicit
duty or responsibility.
Activity (more research might be needed):
Using NewsHour Extra's lesson on the Electoral College at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/teachers/lessonplans/socialstudies/Vote2004/electoral_college.html,
examine the electoral system in this country. Is the current system a fair way
to elect a president? Why or why not? If not, what sort of system might work better?
How does Colorado's proposed system measure up?
According to a Cal Tech/MIT study, an estimated four to six million votes may
have been lost during the 2000 election. What does this say about the country's
voting process? Is that unacceptable in a Democracy, or is it a given that in
an election where 111 million people voted some votes were bound to be lost?
Check out the following Web site: http://www.lwv.org/.
What should a voter do if he shows up to the polls to vote and finds out he's
been left off the registrar's list?
a 500-800 word essay on any of these topics providing clear examples. Send your
completed editorial to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com].
Exceptional essays might be published on our Web site.