Social Studies

Finding a Curriculum to Address the Election Recounts

By Stephen Sawchuk — November 15, 2018 1 min read
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How does one teach about the ongoing recount situation in Florida, the contested Georgia voting situation, and other close calls?

We all learn in school about voting, but those lessons tend to have a “that’s that” feel. The number of tight elections in this cycle—and the related political and legal maneuvering they’ve kicked up—raises fresh questions about how, when races are this tight, our democracy ensures that citizens’ voices are truly heard.

For the nation’s civics and government teachers, though, it’s a prime example of what’s often called a “teachable moment.” But your fearless blogger’s attempt to find concrete lessons online on recounts hasn’t turned up much in the way of specific strategies or plans.

Partly, that’s probably because this is such a current phenomenon and the various recounts are shaped by state rules, by county procedures and by the context of the race at hand. Fortunately, there are a few helpful leads out there.

In Florida, the American Federation of Teachers’s Broward County local, alongside the Florida Education Association, have put together a collection of voting-related lessons. They’re available for free on ShareMyLesson, AFT’s own lesson-sharing site. The collection includes resources from groups like Citizens Not Spectators, C-SPAN Classroom, iCivics, and Teaching Tolerance. (The site requires registration to download materials.)

“We are tracking recounts in a handful of states and believe that this a teachable moment about the core principles on how our democracy works. The 2018 midterm elections in Florida have raised serious concerns about a foundational principle of our democracy: that every vote counts,” the unions wrote in a statement.

The lessons include themes like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the importance of midterms, and the history of voter suppression.Teachers will have to pick and choose among them, though, to tailor something for the recounts.

And here’s a good video clip from C-Span Classroom of how the Florida recount process for the contested senator and governors’ races.

If you’re a teacher trying to integrate the recounts into your classroom, post a comment and let us know how you’re doing it—or email me at

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.