Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Article Published on

Share the History of the Voting Ballot with the Young People in Your Life
Exclusive New Article Now Available on, the NCBLA's companion educational website to the art and literature anthology Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, features a treasure trove of exclusive articles, discussion questions, activities, and other resources to help young people connect with American history. Both the Our White House website and book are perfect partners for helping you get kids engaged in this year's presidential election!

JUST ADDED to is a new web exclusive "From Peas to Paper to IPads: The Evolution of the Ballot in America" by NCBLA volunteer writer Heather Lang.
Parents, teachers, and librarians--did you know that in America's earliest days voters sometimes cast their ballots using peas--or even bullets?!  Did you know that until the late nineteenth century voting was a public act because most Americans believed that private voting was cowardly?! You can read all about how the form of the ballot and the method used to cast a vote have evolved in Lang's exclusive article. We encourage you to share this article--and the accompanying discussion questions and activities--with all the young people in your life.

Here is an excerpt:

The Constitution left it up to each state to decide what voting mechanism it would use, but until the late nineteenth century almost all states had one thing in common: voting was a public act. Many people thought the idea of voting privately, like we do today, was disgraceful and cowardly. 

This early voting system was wrought with fraud and abuse. Politicians, thugs, and partisans intimidated voters at the polls. Tenant farmers opted to stay home rather than face their landlords while casting their votes. It was legal for politicians to bribe voters by handing out their party ticket with a coin. Ballots were stolen. Voters were mugged. Ballot boxes were stuffed or designed with hidden compartments so votes could be added without unlocking them. Not surprisingly there were sometimes more votes than voters. 

As our country evolved, so did our voting system.

To read the entire article detailing the history of the American ballot, click here
Heather Lang is the author of the just published nonfiction book Queen of the Track, illustrated by award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper. Queen of the Track tells the inspiring story of Olympic athlete Alice Coachman. To learn more about Heather and her books, visit her website

Our White House is an outstanding collection of essays, personal accounts, historical fiction, and poetry that melds with an equally stunning array of original art to offer a look at America’s history through the prism of the White House. Starting with a 1792 call for designers and continuing through the present day, these highly engaging writings and illustrations, expressing varied viewpoints and interwoven with key historical events, are a vital resource for family and classroom sharing -- and a stirring reminder that the story of the White House is the story of every American.

To learn more about Our White House, click here.

For more articles and resources related to presidential elections, check out the Civic Education page AND our other NEW exclusive "The Second Shall Be First: The 1948 Presidential Election--Truman V. Dewey" by Renee Critcher Lyons.

Our White House is available
in both hardcover and paperback.
Ask for Our White House at a library or bookstore near you!