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Constitution Day

What Does the Constitution Say About Voting?

Constitution Day Kick Off - A Series of Professional Development Workshops for High School Teachers for Fall 2020

The Constitutional Democracy Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law is hosting a series of professional development workshops for high school teachers centered on the basic question, “What does the Constitution say about voting?”

These workshops provide an opportunity for teachers to work with and learn from legal scholars and historians to enrich their understanding of both historical and present-day issues and controversies surrounding voting and elections.

The 2020 election season has already seen an enormous amount of controversy, litigation, and rhetoric about voting and access to the ballot. Under “normal” circumstances, today’s political polarization make voting contested terrain, but the corona virus pandemic has brought heightened attention to questions about when, where, and how people vote. Concerns about access, eligibility, and election integrity show no sign of letting up. Since the Founding, the right to vote has expanded significantly through a series of constitutional amendments, federal legislation, and judicial decisions. Today, most American adults are eligible to vote. But there is no explicit right to vote in the Constitution, and each state has both the responsibility and the authority to operate both state and federal elections. As a result, there is a patchwork of laws and practices governing voting. 

But what does our Constitution say about voting? How do educators help students understand the history of the right to vote, the underlying and ongoing controversies about it, and the importance of voting?

What Does The Constitution Say About Voting?

This series of four workshops will allow teachers to hear from and work with legal scholars and historians. Each workshop takes place from 4:00 pm until 5:30 pm. Illinois teachers will receive professional development credits for their participation. A $250 stipend will be provided to teachers who attend and participate in all four workshops. The first thirty teachers who register and participate in all four workshops are eligible for the stipend.

All events are virtual, and except for the Constitution Day panel, they will not be open to the public. Each event, including the Constitution Day panel, will give teachers the opportunity to interact directly with the scholars. After the events, materials will be created to share with participants that will focus on issues and discussions from the workshops. Specific content will be identified with teacher input.


September 17 - Constitution Day

This panel will focus on the history of the right to vote in this country and the role of federalism in defining the scope and operation of the right. Open to the public, but teachers will be offered a private 30 minute session during which they can ask questions of the panelists.

Audience: The Public & Teachers (4:00 - 5:00 PM)

Teachers Only (5:00 - 5:30 pm)

October 1

This event will include a deep dive into the history of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 up through Shelby County v. Holder, decided in 2013, and current efforts to amend the law.

Audience: Teachers Only

4:00 - 5:30 pm

October 22

The third professional development event will examine the history of young people and voting, moving up to the present day.

Audience: Teachers Only

4:00 - 5:30 pm

November 12

The last professional development event in the series will focus on legal and constitutional issues that arose before, during, and after the election.

Audience: Teachers Only

4:00 - 5:30 pm

This program is supported through a partnership with the Jack Miller Center’s Chicago Founding Civics Initiative.



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