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Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America captures the
evolution of how the right to vote morphed from a gender-, race-specific right
to one that encapsulates our American democracy. This guide is intended
to help teachers lead a discussion on how important the right to vote is for
Americans and what it means to those who fought to ensure that everyone
in this country has that right. The graphic novel format allows readers to
make connections between past and present historical contexts. This format
enables educators and students to navigate the important people and events
that transformed our most prized democratic value—the right to vote.

Supporting the national Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in reading

informational text for high school curriculums, Drawing the Vote is an appropriate selection for grades 11–12 and early college level in
language arts, social studies, or humanities classes. The following prompts provide for a critical analysis of Drawing the Vote using the CCSS
for Informational Text.

In addition, an Inquiry Design Model (IDM) is provided that will enrich the students’ own experiences regarding voting as the valued
American democratic value.


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the
text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals,
ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.5 Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument,
including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats
and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
“We are a visually illiterate society. . . . Three Rs are no longer enough. Our
world is changing fast—faster than we can keep up with our historical modes
of thinking and communicating. Visual literacy—the ability to both read
and write visual information; the ability to learn visually; to think and solve
problems in the visual domain—will, as the information revolution evolves,
become a requirement for success in business and in life.”
—DAVE GRAY, founder of visual thinking company XPLANE


The use of the graphic novel format is responsive to the growing need for our students to learn what it means to be visually literate. With the
onset of social media and schools using devices in lieu of textbooks, an entire generation is growing up in a world that is highly visual, rapidly
changing, and the ability to decipher information has become an extremely critical skill. Drawing the Vote uses the classic graphic novel
format such as captions and design of the frames, but this approach creates an exciting experience for students. Unlike history books that
discuss the transformation of the vote in America, the graphic novel is created to promote a piece of visual literacy to teach a historical topic.

Tommy Jenkins writes in the preface of the book: “And I hope this book makes people realize the right to vote is fragile; we need to protect
it, and the best way to protect it
is to exercise it.” Have students
analyze this quote before
beginning to read the book. How
is practicing the vote considered
protecting the vote? Educators
may also engage students on
their personal perspectives
regarding voting coming into the
2020 presidential election.

The foreword is written by

famous African American
historian Martha S. Jones, who
elaborates on her own family’s
personal struggle to gain the
right to vote. Ms. Jones explains
that she uses images such as
the 1867 engraving The First
Vote, depicting a trio of black
men casting their votes, on her
social media accounts to inspire
people to practice their right to
vote. Have students consider
speaking with a loved one who
may have experienced similar
struggles and how that affects
how they use the power of voting. If students are first generation children, encourage students to discuss what voting means to their parents
and how it may differ from their country of origin.

The timeline of key events in US voting history can be utilized for pre-reading and after reading the graphic novel. Have
students create a visual timeline using the events and information from the graphic novel. Allow students to choose one
or two events they believe had the greatest impact on voting rights and create a debate as to why they believe those
events were pivotal in the voting rights for certain marginalized groups.
CHAPTER 1. Compare issues faced by women during the suffrage movement to
By the People, for the People what women faced during the Women’s March in 2016.

Why did Americans believe the “election of a black man” would end Explain how Carrie Chapman Catt transformed the women’s
racism? Was that true? movement.

What were some issues that caused voter apathy during the 2016
elections? CHAPTER 5.
Jim Crow Strikes Back! 1890 –1965
Describe some policies put in place by the Trump administration and
What significance does the date 1890 have on Jim Crow?
how they affected communities.
Create a visual timeline explaining the events that occurred between
Why are midterm elections so important?
1890 and 1908.
Do you believe that the Confederate flag is about preserving
How did the term “grandfathered in” develop?
heritage or a symbol of racism?
From 1916 to 1970, nearly six million African Americans left the South
Explain how many groups have struggled to gain the right to vote
causing the Great Migration. What were some push/pull factors that
and why voting is important to honor their struggle.
caused the Great Migration?

CHAPTER 2. How did the Great Migration influence art and culture in major
The Birth of a Nation: 1776 –1861 American cities?

What was the purpose of the Electoral College? How did the What role did the National Association for the Advancement of
Electoral College shape some presidential outcomes? Do you think Colored People (NAACP) play in creating spaces to address the
America should abolish it? political issues facing people of color in America?

How does the author explain the reason for such high voter turnout Explain the importance of Thurgood Marshall’s court cases. How did
in the 1800s as opposed to the present? What was the leading factor they transform policy in America?
for high voter turnout?
There were many people involved in advancing the civil rights
movement alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Examine the many
CHAPTER 3. people involved and discuss how their roles helped advance the civil
United We Stand, Divided We Fall: 1865–1900 rights movement across the nation.
How did the Lincoln assassination change plans for Reconstruction?
What organization developed out of the NAACP? How did that
What were the ramifications of the passing of the 15th Amendment? organization help shape the civil rights movement?

Who were Hiram Revels and Blanche Bruce? What significance do Click here for link.
they hold in our history?

Define and explain the role of each of these in reference to voting CHAPTER 6.
in the late 19th century: Radical Republicans; Redeemers; political A Move to the Left, a Move to the Right:
machines. 1963–2009
How did the Voting Rights Act of 1965 shift the voting demographics
How did the Industrial Revolution and immigration impact voting in
for African Americans and Southern Democrats?
How did political strategy help candidates win elections?
CHAPTER 4. What influence did being from the South have on presidential
Reclaiming Her Time! 1807–2016 candidates like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton?
What rights were stripped of women from the creation of the United
Explain the Southern strategy and how that affected elections.
States until the suffrage movement?
What caused the historic election of President Obama?
Why is Susan Slater significant to women’s history in the United
What caused the split between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Party All the Time: 2009 –2016
African American right to vote movement?
From what historical reference does the Tea
Party derive its name?
How did the case Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission How did social media play a role in the election of President Trump?
change funding for individual candidates?
Explain how voter suppression in some local elections reflected
Who is the Koch family and why was the Koch family heavily involved the same practices done in the 19th and early 20th centuries that
in funding presidential candidates? discouraged minorities to vote.

What influence did the Koch family have on voter policy? What What impact did the revocation of the Fairness Doctrine have on
groups were targeted by these policies and why? cable news and presidential campaigns?

“Shouldn’t we be making it easier to vote and not harder?” That is What were some factors that would lead the public to believe voting
stated at the end of chapter 7. Using information from the chapter, was a rigged system?
why does the author believe voting has become harder? What are
Discuss ways a rigged system can be avoided or overcome.
the ramifications of making voting harder for American citizens?

CHAPTER 8. A Move to the Left, a Move to EPILOGUE. Ever y Vote Counts

the Right: 1963–2009 Explain the author’s statement “elections have consequences.”
Define gerrymandering.
How are presidential actions counterbalanced by state legislation?
Why is gerrymandering an equity issue? Who is affected the most by
What are some issues that are at risk due to President Trump’s
this policy?
The author states that “the 2016 election was one of chaos and
Why does every vote matter and being involved in voting registration
surprise.” Describe the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald
so important?
Trump. How did their campaigns reflect the author’s comment?
How is the system of checks and balances between state and
What was the controversy between Hillary Clinton and Bernie
federal governments evident regarding the voting process?
Sanders? How did that damage the image of the Democratic Party?
How did that lead to greater voter apathy? Has reading this graphic novel changed your mind about voting?

COMPELLING How does the vote reflect America’s democratic principles?


D2.Civ.2.9-12. Analyze the role of citizens in the U.S. political system,

with attention to various theories of democracy, changes in Americans’
STANDARD participation over time, and alternative models from other countries,
past and present.

Read Engaging the Youth Before They Reach Voting Age to Strengthen
STAGING THE Democracy. Engage in conversation with students, discussing the question
QUE STION Does early intervention increase citizen involvement in politics and if so,
what are the benefits?


How has the vote in our country Should voting be considered Do political parties truly reflect
evolved over the years? a right or a privilege? your political beliefs?



Pick one time period from the Create a debate answering the Take the quiz from
graphic novel that impacted the question, Should the right to vote
vote and complete a short essay be revoked if you commit a crime?
Explain your answer. Reflect on your result and how
explaining the importance of that the survey portrayed your political
event to our nation’s voting history. stance. Was the survey accurate in
determining your stance?


Various chapters from NCSL: Felon Voting Rights Democratic National Committee
Drawing the Vote.
Nonprofit VOTE: Voting Rights for Republican National Committee
Business Insider: The Evolution Ex-Offenders by State
of American Voting Rights Libertarian Party
NCSC: The Future of Restoring
Voting and Elections Voting Rights for Ex-Felons: The C-SPAN:
Surprising Facts Road to the White House 2020

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How does the vote reflect America’s democratic

principles? Construct an argument (in the form of
detailed outline, poster, or essay) that addresses
the compelling question using specific claims and
SUMMATIVE relevant evidence from contemporary sources while
acknowledging competing views.

TASK Discuss how the voting process has evolved.
EXTENSION Should the process be modified to reflect the changing
world we live in today?

ASSESS: Examine one viewpoint discussed by party candidates

TAKING during the 2020 campaign that is important to you.
INFORMED ACT: Do one of the following: (1) Choose one of your key issues
ACTION and join, support, and/or champion its cause. (2) Develop your
own form of action on the issue.


Abeer Shinnawi is a middle school social studies resources teacher with more than 18 years of teaching experience. Shinnawi has developed
curriculum and professional development for museums such as the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, and she is also a member of the
teacher advisory group for the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. A mother of three daughters, Shinnawi resides in
the Baltimore area.

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