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When the 17th Amendment was made to the U.S. Constitution, people in the U.S. had the right to vote for the president and members of the Congress. The Congress, which makes laws and represents the citizens, has two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. States have legislatures, which make state laws. If changes or additions to these laws are needed, an amendment may be made, which is an alteration or addition made to a constitution, statute, legislative bill, or resolution.
See the fact file below for more information on the 17th Amendment or alternatively, you can download our 21-page 17th Amendment worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
PROBLEMS IN THE SENATE
- In the late 19th century, political machines, organizations that command votes to maintain political control, had taken over the state legislatures. They prioritized private interests instead of serving the people.
- Vacancies in the Senate lasted for months and even years, as several state legislatures disagreed on who must fill each vacancy.
CALLS FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
- The House of Representatives began to pass resolutions in the 1980s proposing that Senators must be elected by direct election, which allowed people to vote for Senators instead of the state legislature. The Senate did not vote on these proposals.
- Article V of the Constitution allows the calling for a constitutional convention when two-thirds of state legislatures have applied for an amendment. The Congress acted when it appeared that two-thirds of the states wanted the amendment.
- In 1911, the House of Representatives passed Joint Resolution 39 which proposed the amendment to allow the direct election of U.S. Senators. A joint resolution must be voted for by two-thirds of each house, and becomes effective after being ratified by three-quarters of the states.
- Joint Resolution 39 was accepted by the Senate and went back to the House of Representatives as it included a change, then was sent to the states for ratification after a year. The states ratified the amendment. The 17th Amendment to the Constitution became official on April 8, 1913.
CONTENTS OF THE 17TH AMENDMENT
- The full text of the amendment states:
- “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
- “When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies:
- Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
- “This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.”
- People must elect two Senators from each state for six years. Each Senator will have one vote in the Senate. Anyone who can vote in their state election may also vote for a Senator.
- In the occasion that a Senator dies or must leave office, his state governor is allowed to appoint a temporary replacement until a special election is held.
- This amendment does not affect the election or term of any Senator that was elected before it has been passed.
EFFECTS OF THE 17TH AMENDMENT
- By the time that the amendment had been adopted, states had already implemented methods that gave voters the right to choose Senators. Even so, the amendment was deemed necessary to diminish the influence of other special interests on the election of senators.
- Members of the Tea Party Movement called to repeal the 17th Amendment in the notion that it would reduce power of the federal government and protect states’ rights in 2010.
- In 2016, a joint resolution calling for an amendment repealing the 17th Amendment was approved by Utah legislature.
- Past proponents for repealing the 17th Amendment include Ted Cruz and Mike Lee.
AMERICAN VOTING PROCEDURES
- First-past-the-post voting (FPTP) – Each voter casts his/her vote for his/her preferred candidate. The candidate with the most votes wins.
- Two-round system (also known as second ballot, runoff voting or ballotage) – Voters mark their chosen candidate. A candidate is elected if he/she gets 50% of the vote; if not, a second election occurs. The winner of the second ballot wins.
- Instant runoff voting (IRV) – Voters are allowed to rank candidates in order of preference. A candidate wins if he/she receives more than 50% of the votes; if there is no winner, the winner is decided by an “instant runoff.” The candidate with the least votes will be eliminated; voters who ranked that candidate first will have their votes count for their second choice. The process continues until there are enough votes for a candidate to win.
- Louisiana primary – This is a general election, where all or most members of a given political body are chosen. Candidates of the same office all appear on the ballot, usually including several candidates from every major party. The candidate with more than half the votes is elected. If no candidate wins, a runoff will occur between the two leading candidates a month later.
- Nonpartisan blanket primary – Voters choose one candidate per office regardless of the candidate’s party affiliation. Candidates with the most votes from each party advance to the general election.
17th Amendment Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the 17th Amendment across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use 17th Amendment worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the 17th Amendment. When the 17th Amendment was made to the U.S. Constitution, people in the U.S. had the right to vote for the president and members of the Congress. The Congress, which makes laws and represents the citizens, has two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. States have legislatures, which make state laws. If changes or additions to these laws are needed, an amendment may be made, which is an alteration or addition made to a constitution, statute, legislative bill, or resolution.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- The 17th Amendment Fact File
- American Voting Procedures
- A Closer Look
- Voting in a Digital World
- The Power of Information
- Art Interpretation
- Combat the Cons
- Behind the Amendment
- Drawing Out Loud
- Behind the Big Change
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Link will appear as 17th Amendment Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, August 27, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.