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Electoral College Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Use this Study.com lesson plan to teach your students about Electoral College voting. Have students practice calculating votes, participate in a mock voting session, debate efficacy of the process, and propose a reform model.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe the Electoral College vote
  • explain the history of the Electoral College
  • defend opinions on the Electoral College system
  • think critically about the efficacy of the Electoral College system

Length:

45 minutes to 1 hour

Key Vocabulary

  • Electoral College
  • Slate of electors
  • National popular votes
  • Congressional districts
  • National Census

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7

Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.1

Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

Instructions

  • Begin by having students participate in an anonymous vote on a topic of interest to your students that will also yield a divided outcome. For example, voting on whether or not to have homework will likely yield a collective 'no!'; instead, consider a hot-topic issue for a mock vote, such as if girls should be allowed to play boys' sports. Collect votes and tell students you will tally later in the class.
  • Introduce the topic of the Electoral College. Share prior knowledge and set the stage for learning by previewing or pre-teaching vocabulary words.
  • Show students our Study.com video lesson The Electoral College: Definition & Process.
    • Allow students to take notes, or print copies of the transcript for students to follow during the lesson.
  • Pause the video at 3:09 and review the concept of Electoral College votes. Discuss:
    • Why did the United States adopt the Electoral College process?
    • What does the lesson mean when it says the Electoral College process is an indirect system? Explain if students have trouble answering.
    • What role do a slate of electors play in the voting process?
    • Is it possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and not get elected? Explain.
  • Play the remainder of the video. Discuss:
    • Why must a presidential candidate receive 270 Electoral College votes to win an election?
    • Is the Electoral College system working? Will it likely be changed? Explain.
    • Why do some people think the Electoral College voting system allows some people's votes to matter more than others?

Activity

  • Divide students into groups of differing numbers and assign an Electoral College vote number. Larger groups will have a larger number of votes, smaller groups will have fewer.
  • Return to the topic you voted on at the beginning of class. Ask students to consider if the outcome of the vote will be the same using the Electoral College system in your room. Discuss and debate, allowing students to defend their reasons with evidence.
  • Vote again using the Electoral College system. With students, tally the results for both votes. Create a chart or graph if time allows, displaying votes.
  • Discuss outcomes. Did the results surprise any students?

Extensions

  • For homework, have students write a proposal for reform of the Electoral College voting system. Share in class.
  • Watch our video lesson Al Gore & the 2000 Presidential Election Recount and read other materials about the 2000 presidential election. Discuss the role Electoral College votes played in Bush winning the election and the Supreme Court's decision to halt the recount.
  • Research other elections that called the Electoral College into question.

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