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CNN Student News Learning Activity: National Political Conventions

  • Story Highlights
  • Voters elect delegates to the national political conventions
  • The role of conventions has changed over time
  • Students will learn about the role of delegates in the political process
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about the selection and responsibilities of political convention delegates.

Procedure
Point out to students that, during the presidential election process, each state's voters elect delegates to represent them at the Republican and Democratic Parties' national political conventions, and that each political party and each state have different rules for selecting delegates. Have each student select a different U.S. state and political party. Direct students to research their states' delegate selection process and delegate responsibilities, as well as the events that occur at a political convention. Students can use the following questions to guide their research:

  • What are the national party's rules for delegate selection?
  • What are the state laws and state party rules for electing delegates?
  • Are there different types of delegates in your chosen state and party? If so, how are they selected?
  • What are an elected delegate's duties?
  • What events occur at the party's national convention?
  • Challenge students to assume the role of convention delegates and create journals with entries that highlight important events, from their initial filings through the primaries to the last day of the national convention. Direct each student to deliver his or her state's roll call speech for the convention. (Note: Many of these speeches extol the virtues of the state, its natural resources, notable citizens, etc. In the spirit of the political convention atmosphere, you may want to allow students to research their respective states and follow this trend -- even allow them to wear hats decorated to represent their states -- but it is recommended that you impose a time limit on each speech.) After the roll call speeches, conclude with a discussion of the role of delegates and national party conventions in the political process.

    Correlated Standards

    CIVICS:

    9-12 Content Standards

    I. What Are Civic Life, Politics, And Government?

    1. Defining civic life, politics, and government

    2. Necessity of politics and government

    III. How Does The Government Established By The Constitution Embody The Purposes, Values, And Principles Of American Democracy?

    14. Political parties, campaigns, and elections

    V. What Are The Roles Of The Citizen In American Democracy?

    14. The relationship between politics and the attainment of individual and public goals

    15. The difference between political and social participation

    16. Forms of political participation

    17. Political leadership and careers in public service

    18. Knowledge and participation

    The National Standards for Civics and Government (http://www.civiced.org/index.php?page=stds) are published by the Center for Civic Education (http://www.civiced.org/).

    Keywords
    convention, delegate, roll call vote, Democratic Party, Republican Party

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