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Did voters turn out -- or are they turned off?

Election 2002

Return to Make classroom connections to this year's elections



Educational Technology

  • Applied Math
  • Arithmetic
  • Statistics
Social Studies
  • Civics
  • Current Events
  • Geography
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12
  • Advanced

Brief description

Students examine voter turnout statistics from the most recent presidential election to learn which ten states have the best turnout record. How did your state do?


Students will
  • examine voter turnout statistics.
  • use the turnout statistics (by percent of the voting-age population) to determine which ten states had the highest voter turnout.
  • complete a chart that shows the ten states with the highest turnout.
  • compare their states voter turnout record to other states in the region or country.


vote, voter, election, percent, percentage, chart, statistics, data, campaign, Washington DC, government, civics, citizenship

Materials needed[shop materials]

Lesson plan

In this lesson, students use voter turnout data to discover patterns and draw conclusions.

At the start of the lesson, share the Web pages at which students can find voter turnout statistics for recent elections. If you do not have computer access in the classroom, this activity might be done in the computer lab or you could print out the voter-turnout statistics for each year for students to use as they complete the activity.

See the following page for voter turnout statistics:

Note: This activity will examine the percentage of the voting-age population (VAP) who turned out to vote.

Distribute to each student the In which states did voters turn out? worksheet. Have students analyze the data on the United States Elections Project: Voter turnout 2012 page to determine which ten states had the largest turnout that year. Then ask them to fill in the chart on the work sheet showing the ten states that had the highest turnout (as a percent of the voting age population). The chart also has a place where students can record information about "My State if it is not on the top-ten list.

You might ask older students to add a column in which they record the percentage of voters who turned out to vote in those ten states in each of the four years prior to the most recent election. That will enable students to see the growth or decline in voter turnout in comparable election years.

Extension activities

  • Students can look at and graph results in their regions. What similarities or differences in statistics do you see among neighboring states? What might account for those differences?
  • Examine data about the percentage of the voting-age population (VAP) compared to the voting-eligible population (VEP). Which states might need to focus some attention on getting eligible voters to register? In other words, which states have the highest percentages of the voting-age population that is not even registered to vote?
  • Create a chart to show the percentage of eligible voters who voted in each state in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Which states show the largest increases in voter turnout? What might be some other reasons for that increase?
  • Watch the Federal Election Commission site or other sources for voter turnout statistics for this years election. Compare that data to data from two years and from four years ago.
  • On a U.S. Outline map, color the ten states with the best voter turnout record in the last election. Can you draw any conclusions from the colored map about how geography might relate to voter turnout?
  • To further emphasize the importance of voting, share What a difference one vote makes. This PBS resource documents nine times in history when one vote made a real difference!


Check student work sheets for the correct answers.

Alternate assessment: Have students examine the same voter turnout statistics used to create the chart above. Instead of identifying the ten states with the best turnout in the last election, have them identify the five states with the worst voter turnout records.

Lesson plan source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins


See more election lesson plans from the Education World archive.

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Links last updated 02/20/2016