This lesson will help students understand the ranked choice voting system. This system is used in Australia, the state of Maine, and many cities throughout the united states. Alaska currently has a ballot proposition to use ranked choice voting.
Laser Cutter (this is written for a Glowforge but can easily be adapted)
Wood for cutting
Paint or markers
Provides background information on why this lesson is important.
Alaskan voters will be voting on a ballot proposition that would change the way state and federal elections are calculated. The official ballot summary can be found here.
Instead of having a Republican Party primary and a Democratic Party primary and a separate system for undeclared or nonpartisan candidates, this ballot measure would have all candidates participate in the same primary system. Votes for this primary would operate the traditional way with each voter selecting only their top choice. The top 4 candidates would move forward to the general election.
The general election is where the system changes the most. Instead of voters only selecting their top choice, they get to rank all the candidates in preference order. Unlike traditional voting, a candidate cannot win until they have reached over 50% of the votes. If no candidate has over 50% of the votes, the lowest candidate is eliminated and anyone who voted for them now has their second place vote counted instead. This process continues until there is a winner.
You could have students read the proposition text, the summary text, and information from groups for and against the proposition.
Voting chips allow students to easily track their vote and see what happens to it throughout the ranked choice voting process.
For this lesson we are going to make and use customized voting chips so that students can easily track what is happening to their vote. I will show the process for using a Glowforge to have students make custom voting chips but this could be done in many other ways. I have included a file with many pre-made shapes which could be used on any laser. I painted the sheets of wood before cutting out the shapes to make it easy to compare votes but for more engagement students could be given a limited set of colors and could decorate their own voting chips.
Give students a sticky note and a Sharpie marker. It doesn’t have to be a Sharpie but the Glowforge does a really good job with them and might not do as well with other markers. Have students draw the outline of a shape on their sticky note. You can add restrictions or requirements to the shapes as fit your class and content. The shape should be a closed shape to give it some volume.
I recommend having students write their name or initials in small letters on the back of their sticky note using pencil. This can help connect the shapes to the students if any of them forget which shape was theirs.
Have students put their sticky notes on a group page so that the sticky notes overlap but the shapes don’t. Put this in the Glowforge.