Lecture: explain the difference between proportional (e.g., Europe) and winner-take-all (e.g., United States) electoral system.
Break the students into pairs. Have one student in each pair list the characteristics of a proportional system and have the other do the same for a winner-take-all system.
Have each pair then combine their separate lists into one table that places similar and/or opposing characteristics next to one another.
Have each pair go over its table and identify each characteristic that might contribute to either voter apathy or voter engagement and tally the score in favor of either a proportional or winner-take-all system.
Bring the class back together and discuss each pairs findings and conclusions.
Follow-up discussion -- “Should the U.S. Have a Parliament”: In whole group, discuss whether or not the United States should scrap its current electoral system in favor of the kind that predominates in Europe and in many other parts of the world. Discuss, in particular, the impact such a change might have on the growing apathy of American voters. Suggested discussion questions: “Would voter apathy decline, if people felt that their vote really did count? If people knew that they would have a real voice in government, even it were a minority voice, would they be more active and engaged?” See Sanford Levinson: Our Idiotic Constitution in the New York Times for background/potential reading.
Assessment: Assess each student’s individual work based the rubric below (alternative -- pair grade, based on median letter score):