“The integrity of the election is critical to the legitimacy of the nation’s next leader, and never more than in this hazardous moment. It’s essential that every eligible voter has an opportunity to cast a ballot, and that every vote is counted. Voting by mail is key to ensuring the integrity and accessibility of November’s vote.” – New York Times Editorial Board
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: It’s Time to Protect the 2020 Election, Too, —The New York Times Editorial Board
“There is no good time for a pandemic to hit. Still, it’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable moment than the one we find ourselves in, only months before some 130 million Americans expected to head to the polls to vote for the next president and thousands of other officeholders.
The outcome of the November election could shape the contours of American politics and government for decades.
Right now, most people are rightly preoccupied with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus on public health and the national economy. But a functioning democracy requires elections that are free, fair, accurate and on time, even during a global health crisis.
It is almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before. Assuming the coronavirus outbreak persists into the fall, it will pose unprecedented challenges to holding a nationwide vote, the most obvious of which is the need to keep people physically separated… Several states have already postponed their primaries for this reason.
That may be the right call for the time being, but it won’t work for the general election in November, the date of which is prescribed by federal law, and which is followed soon after by the constitutionally mandated inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20, .
The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free optionfor every eligible voter in the country.
This means, at a minimum: printing tens of millions of mail-in ballots and envelopes; ensuring that all registered voters receive one automatically, can request a replacement if they don’t, and can return it by Election Day; and finally, having the human and technological resources, like ballot scanners, available to count those votes quickly and accurately.
The good news is that we already have evidence that voting by mail works well. In five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington, most or all votes are cast by mail; in three others more than half are. In all, nearly one-quarter of all voters cast ballots by mail in 2016.
The experiments in the states have yielded several key findings: First, turnout is significantly higher nearly everywhere voting by mail is used. Second, voters of all political persuasions use it and like it. Third, it’s safe and secure. Bar codes allow for ballot tracking and validation. And states that use vote-by-mail have encountered essentially zero fraud: Oregon, the pioneer in this area, has sent out more than 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, and has documented only about a dozen cases of proven fraud…Switching to all or nearly all voting by mail will require printing at least 70 million additional ballots.
These ballots will have to be ready to go out by Labor Day, less than six months from today. They must be postage-paid, so that no one has to pay a penny to vote, and there need to be enough machines and poll workers available to start counting ballots as soon as they come in. Signature-matching software can help ensure ballots are coming from the voters they were sent to, without introducing partisan bias into the process…A bill drafted by Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota would require states to, among other things, provide self-sealing envelopes with prepaid postage to all voters who request an absentee ballot. The bill would provide for all necessary federal funds to help the states.
Making voting easy and widely accessible in a time of social distancing is the biggest thing we can do, but there are other steps we can take to ensure a safe, secure and high-turnout election.
First, educating voters with clear and simple instructions about handling and returning their mail-in ballots.
Second, physical polling sites still must be made available for those voters who are uncomfortable voting by mail or unable to. Many Native Americans living on reservations, for example, do not have traditional postal addresses, and would have a hard time receiving or returning a mail ballot. Many others will have moved as a result of the virus and may be hard to locate…Finally, voter registration needs to be easier across the board, in recognition of the fact that many Americans will have moved or be in transit over the coming months. This means making online registration available now and same-day registration available everywhere.
For the oldest continuously operating democracy in the world, the United States has a poor track record of prioritizing the smooth operation of elections…For all Americans, no matter their politics, the most important thing to remember is that this election is not going to look like what they are used to, and to be patient if final results aren’t in on election night. There has been a lot of criticism, much of it legitimate, about slow or disorganized counts during this primary season. But getting an accurate vote count is far more important than getting a fast one.”
In the Meantime: Great Teaching Activities Sites with Free Materials for Teachers, Students and Parents
“Learning Packets” for students During School Closures By Larry Ferlazzo: “It seems like a fair number of districts don’t have any kind of learning plan in place for their students right now. Some districts, however, even if they don’t have a full-fledged remote learning program going on, are creating “learning packets” for students to complete. It’s not great, obviously, but it seems like it’s better than nothing and can help out parents.” For more information visit
Home With Your Kids? Writers Want to Help” – The New York Times Mo Willems, Gene Luen Yang, Amie Kaufman and other authors for young readers are reading their work online and offering drawing tutorials, to help fill our strange new hours. For more information visit
The STEM Sprouts Teaching Guide – Boston Children’s Museum & WGBH Welcome! Are you ready for some fun?
The STEM Sprouts Teaching Kit is the product of a collaborationbetween National Grid, Boston Children’s Museum, and WGBH. The goal of this curriculum is to assist preschool educators in focusing and refiningthe naturally inquisitive behaviors of three to five-year-olds on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Have students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- There is no good time for a pandemic to hit.
- The outcome of the November election could shape the contours of American politics.
- Right now, most people are rightly preoccupied with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus.
- If the coronavirus outbreak persists into the fall the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before.
- It will pose unprecedented challenges to holding a nationwide vote, the most obvious of which is the need to keep people physically separated.
- Several states have already postponed their primaries for this reason.
- That may be the right call for the time being, but it won’t work for the general election in November.
- The general election is followed soon after by the constitutionally mandated inauguration of the next president on Jan. 20, .
- The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free option for every eligible voter in the country.
- The good news is that we already have evidence that voting by mail works well.
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- 130 million Americans are expected to head to the polls to vote for the next president.
- People are rightly concerned with the immediate impacts of the coronavirus.
- It are almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before.
- Several states has already postponed their primaries.
- The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free choice.
- These ballots will have to be ready to go out by Labor Day.
- The ballots must be postage-paid, so that no one has to pay a penny to vote.
- There need to be enough machines and poll workers available.
- Online registration must be make available now.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
For the oldest continuously operating ___in the world, the ___has a ___track record of prioritizing the smooth ___of elections…For all___, no matter their___, the most___thing to remember is that this ___is not going to look like what they are used to, and to be___ if final results aren’t in on ___night.
WORD LIST: election, election,important, patient, politics, operation, poor,democracy,United States, Americans,
III. Post Reading Activities
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- If you are of voting age and live in the U.S., have you thought about voting during the coronavirus?
- In your opinion, is voting now an important matter to the American People? Why or why not?
- The authors state that “It is almost certain that the 2020 election won’t look like any we’ve seen before.” In what way will the 2020 election be different from others?
- The article states that “The most practical fix is to make voting by mail a clear and free option for every eligible voter in the country.” Do you agree with this statement? Why?
- We already have states such as Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington, in which most or all votes are cast by mail with very positive results; so why do you think that people are still hesitant to vote by mail in other states?
- What are some of the precautions that must be taken to switch to nearly all voting by mail before November elections?
- Colorado uses specialized drop boxes with camera monitors. Is this a good idea to ensure safe voting?
- Why or why not?
- In addition to mail in voting, why must physical polling sites be made available to voters?
- After reading this article name at least one piece of new information that you’ve learned. Discuss what you’ve learned with your group members and share as a class.
Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.