Civics Education Resource Site

Post-Election Resources for Classrooms

The 2020 election season has come with its share of twists and turns. IllinoisCivics.org is committed to supporting classrooms in processing the election. Below are resources to help address common questions you and your students might have at this critical juncture in the history of our republic.

How Are Ballots Counted?

New Hampshire Public Radio Civics 101 recently created a mini-podcast episode to give an overview of the process.

What happens before, during, and after votes are cast to ensure free and fair elections?

Facing History and Ourselves has an explainer describing the essential steps taken throughout the election process.

What's the Timeline for Each State to Count Their Ballots?

FiveThirtyEight created a resource about when to expect election results in every state. You can also visit the website to see the latest returns.

What are the Deadlines for Election Results to be Finalized?

Street Law created an infographic explaining what happens between the 78 days between election day and inauguration day.

How do News Outlets Determine When to Project a Winner?

PBS Newshour Extra created a mini-lesson, How do news outlets decide when to call a winner?

What are some strategies I can use to discuss the elections with my students?

A recent IllinoisCivics.org blog post shared resources from Teaching Tolerance, Facing History and Ourselves, Project Zero, iCivics, and more to help classrooms reflect, revisit norms, and have ongoing civil dialogue about the election.

How can I provide my students with a deeper understanding of the Electoral College?

The IllinoisCivics.org Election 2020 Toolkit has a plethora of resources classrooms can use to explore how the Electoral College works.

How can I help students understand how the peaceful transfer of power is designed to work?

iCivics designed an infographic around the Peaceful Transfer of Power and the Bill of Rights Institute published this timely lesson on Contentious Elections and the Peaceful Transfer of Power.

How has the Supreme Court of the United States been involved in the election up to now?

Street Law has created a timeline of SCOTUS cases in the 2020 elections.

What role might the courts play in settling election results?

The ABA Division for Public Education has partnered with Dr. Steven D. Schwinn, Professor of Law at the University of Illinois at Chicago John Marshall Law school to provide timely updates for teachers on their YouTube channel.

What supports are available for teachers in this ongoing election season?

  • A series of post-election webinars are available for viewing in the Webinar Archive. Each webinar has an accompanying blog with resources.
  • The Teaching for Democracy Alliance hosted a Social Studies Chat on Twitter that is archived with resources shared.
  • Many of our civic learning partners are hosting professional development opportunities for teachers. Visit the Professional Development Calendar to find out more.

Did the youth vote make a difference?

Our friends at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) are analyzing the data and updating their Election Week 2020 documenting youth turnout and impact in battleground states daily.

What does it mean to be a "lame duck"?

A recent Civics 101 Podcast has a brief explainer of what it means to be a "lame duck."
C-SPAN Classroom has a bell-ringer activity to start the conversation using a political cartoon.

What is a concession speech?

  • Civics 101 Podcast breaks down the components of a concession speech.
  • Politico provides video clips of past concession speeches from both sides of the aisle while Poynter provides an overview of The Art of the Concession Speech and why they are important.

How does the transition between presidents work?

How do Presidential Pardons Work?

  • The Bill of Rights Institute has an e-lesson, Mr. President, Pardon Me that explores the foundations of the presidential pardon in the U.S. Constitution, as well as how and why this power has been exercised throughout history.
  • iCivics has a mini-lesson on the Pardon Power that also explores commutations and the limitations on these presidential powers.
  • C-Span Classroom has a lesson on pardons with historical video clips.

How can I address questions related to voter fraud and voter suppression?

What does the President's Cabinet do? How does one become a member of the Cabinet?

  • Civics 101 Podcast from New Hampshire Public Radio has an episode that explains the role of the Cabinet. They also have an Executive Branch Starter Kit with a mnemonic device students can use to learn the executive departments in order of creation.
  • KQED has a lesson plan about the President's Cabinet.
  • A Very Big Branch from iCivics helps students learn how the executive departments and agencies regulate and enforce governmental policies, and they explore the roles and responsibilities of the presidential cabinet.
  • C-Span Classroom has a Bell Ringer about the Role of the President's Cabinet.
  • Politico, the Washington Post, and The New York Times all recently did pieces speculating who might serve in President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet.

What is a "faithless elector?"

  • The Bill of Rights Institute has created a lesson plan, "Faithless Electors and Electing the Executive" that has students explore the processes used to select members of the Electoral College and analyze the responsibilities of electors in our election system.
  • Street Law has resources for students to explore the recent SCOTUS case Chiafalo v. Washington. This case challenged a Washington State "faithless elector" fine.

What is the significance of the first 100 days of a presidency?

  • For over two centuries, American political offices have peacefully transferred power after every election. Use this infographic from iCivics to show students how precedent, tradition, and legitimacy have helped create this democratic norm. Consider the importance of a peaceful transfer of power and why it is important to a democratic form of government.
  • The FDR Library provides a historical perspective of the first 100 days of a presidency during times of crisis.
  • The History Channel has "fast facts" on the "First 100 Days."
  • How does Washington's First 100 Days stack up against his successors? This lesson from Mt. Vernon helps students explore this question.
  • This 4 minute interview from NPR answers listener questions about the importance of a president's first 100 days.

For further reading about helping students process the results of the election, consider the following: