Why Tuesday? has great potential for a U.S. history or U.S. government class, or any social studies class that focuses on the democratic process in the United States. Encourage students to explore the election reforms detailed on the site, like weekend voting, online or automatic registration, and voter ID cards. Have students research these issues and debate them in teams, taking sides on whether to keep the current system or adopt something new. Talk about the history of the Voting Rights Act, the Fourteenth Amendment, and other landmark civil rights struggles that have dealt with voting rights in this country. If possible, have students research your local elected officials' positions on these issues and, if appropriate, reach out to them to learn more about their perspectives.Continue reading Show less
Why Tuesday? is a website that examines the history and politics behind voting laws in the United States. Created by a nonprofit organization with the same name, Why Tuesday? works to raise awareness about low voter turnout and examine the state of the voting system in the United States. An intro video poses the site's title question (Why are our national elections held the first Tuesday in November?) to a series of state and national leaders. Nicely, the video features members of both major political parties (including President Obama, Senator John McCain, and a host of other prominent politicians) and then features the organization's former executive director discussing the history of the practice. After viewing the video, students can explore the site's homepage in greater detail to see where candidates in the last two national elections stood on key voting rights issues.
Elsewhere on the site, students can dig deeper into the "Why Tuesday?" question, learn about the organization's history (on the About and FAQ pages), view data supporting the merits of weekend voting (on the Evidence page), and read past news coverage of the site (on the Media page). The Reforms page examines other voting practices in the United States, like voter registration and voter ID laws, and the Action page lets students search for their local elected officials, view their voting records on these issues, and get in contact.
Whether you're introducing students to the election process or diving deep into its nuances, Why Tuesday? is a great place to start. The intro video is an absorbing combination of cool animation and fast-paced interviews with political bigwigs, and the voting reforms page offers a good list of some of the most contentious voting rights issues. It would be even better if the site dug deeper: Users can get a small taste of the dynamics surrounding voter ID laws and other voting topics, but links to court cases, scholarly websites, or other reliable sources would help kids and teachers get more informed about the issues at stake. Additionally, the contact features could use more nuance: If a politician hasn't explicitly voted to support voting rights, the site states, "Governor Doe is ignoring the health of our voting system and has not weighed in on how to improve our elections." The language is a little harsh -- especially for a site that's all about building consensus and supporting our democracy.
Meanwhile, some inconsistencies are jarring: Most of the politicians featured in the intro video don't have a lengthy voting record on voting rights, which makes their taped remarks seem less genuine or even misleading. Some info also needs to be updated: A handful of officials unseated in the November 2014 elections are still listed as incumbents. However, even as it is, Why Tuesday? is a worthy introduction to the American political system.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the delivery of a speech affects the impact of the words).
Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.