Teaching the 2016 Election: The Electoral College, Part II

by Shawn Healy, PhD, Civic Learning Scholar and Barb Laimins, Teacher Mentor Liaison

Teacher Mentor Liaison Barb Laimins has compiled a number of links and lesson plans to assist you in bringing the Electoral College into your classroom.

From the top, the National Archives provides additional background information on the Electoral College.

In this lesson, students examine the purpose, function, origin, and historical development of the Electoral College in order to gain a better understanding of how Americans elect the President. They then evaluate issues of fairness and representation with regard to the Electoral College. Finally, students participate in a class debate over the pros and cons of the current system.

Similarly, Gilder-Lehrman designed this lesson to explore how the Electoral College system functions in determining who will be the president and vice president of the United States. Students respond to a series of prompts and are ultimately asked to weigh in via a short essay on whether the Electoral College should be retained or replaced by the national popular vote.

C-SPAN produced these video clips describing the Electoral College process, possible scenarios, a general overview, and once more arguments for and against its continuation.

Debates abound on the continued utility of the Electoral College, and a series of lesson plans engage students in them. Formats vary from a constitutional convention to pro/ con debates. The three links that follow provide supportive texts for the latter purpose:

Speaking of Electoral College scenarios, this New York Times article shows and contextualizes the electoral map over the past half century. And the website 270towin is essential to simulating the various scenarios where Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or a third party candidate could prevail this fall. Based on polling data aggregated by the wizards at FiveThirtyEight.com, the picture below provides a snapshot on the state of the race today, projecting state-by-state winners and corresponding Electoral Votes.

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

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