| »

Virginia State Board of Elections,

Virginia State Board of Elections

The official election website of the state of Virginia includes practical information about elections, such as detailed information on when, where, and how to vote. There are also sections on what is on your ballot and an informative guide to the election process. Overall, the Virginia State Board of Elections website provides a primer on the ins-and-outs of the electoral process that can help demystify what happens at the polls.

Project Vote Smart,

Project Vote Smart

Project Vote Smart aims to provide voters with information about key election issues, biographical information about candidates, and voting records. One of its best properties is the level of detail given to state and local elections. Visitors can search by zip code to find information about candidates in their area, go directly to Virginia’s profile page, or even find links to local election offices. Find out who your representatives are, how their votes are affecting your life, and how you can vote in your area.

Elections the American Way,

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has created an excellent resource that both explains how the electoral process works and gives a historical perspective. The website offers an overview of candidates, voters, the party system, the election process, and issues throughout U.S. history. Quotations, pictures, and memorabilia from key Virginian presidents are scattered throughout the website. This is an excellent resource for understanding how the electoral system developed, and it has instructions for presidential craft projects.

Political Cartoonists Index,

Daryl Cagle and ClassBrain

This website offers five lesson plans and associated political cartoons every day. Such frequent updates ensure that each lesson plan covers the latest issues. By necessity, each lesson plan is fairly brief. It offers a brief overview of background on the political cartoon, a list of discussion questions, the state where the cartoon was published, and links to articles about the issue. The main page also offers a comprehensive index of political cartoonists, which includes the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Fredericksburg Freelance-Star, that visitors may want to use for research purposes or simply a quick laugh.

Political Activity for Public Servants (Hatch Act),

U.S. Office of Special Counsel

These Hatch Act guidelines outline the legal restrictions placed on government employees’ involvement in political activities. This website is aimed at state, federal, and local government officials, and it offers a window into potentially problematic areas of government. How may state and federal officials participate in political campaigns? When does it become a conflict of interest? These questions and more could form the basis of a classroom discussion or a research project.

Virginia Public Access Project,

VPAP

The Virginia Public Access Project is a non-profit, non-partisan organization which strives to provide information to the public about Virginia campaign donations through computer technology. Their website offers maps of where legislator’s donations come from, the size of their donations, and lists of contributors. There is also information on lobbyists, donors, vendors, and committees. In addition to using the wealth of information on this site, students may benefit from comparing it to the Virginia State Board of Elections Campaign Finance Website. How does a private group’s portrayal of campaign financing differ from the government website?

Virginia Campaign Finance Website,

Virginia State Board of Elections

This website offers government-mandated disclosure information for campaign finance contributions to candidates for Virginia state and local elections. Members of the public can view sometimes-surprising information about who made large contributions to Virginia candidates and political committees. PACs range from the Cigar Association of Virginia to the Virginia Taxicab Association. This website raises questions about the role of PACs and campaign finance, and can lead to discussions of these issues.

National Conference of State Legislatures,

NCSL

The National Conference of State Legislatures is a bipartisan organization that provides networking and information services to state legislators from Virginia and around the country. While some services are restricted to legislators, NCSL offers up-to-date information on issues that affect policymakers at the state level, such as the Federal budget, immigration, and ethics. The website is an excellent source for information on State-Federal relations and the division of power.

Rock the Vote,

Rock the Vote

Founded nearly twenty years ago, Rock the Vote works to involve students in the electoral process through many methods, including contemporary music, with artists ranging from Madonna to Snoop Dogg. There are also guides to voter registration campaigns, and even a Twitter feed. In addition, the website offers guides on how to mobilize young voters. Rock the Vote has remarkably flexible materials to involve youth in the electoral process at the state, national, or local level.

The ReDistricting Game,

USC Annenburg Foundation

The ReDistricting Game teaches students about the challenges and potential of redistricting, as well as the problem of gerrymandering. The website features five different games: Fundamentals, Partisan Gerrymander, Bipartisan Gerrymander, Voting Rights Act, and Reform. Each game has both a basic and advanced level, as well as links to further information. The game can serve as the foundation for a classroom discussion on gerrymandering in Virginia, or a fun independent learning session for anyone who wants to know more about the difficulties of gerrymandering.