The Electoral College

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 10975

One person. One vote. That's the rule for elections in the U.S. However, electing the president is not all that simple. Use video, online documents, and maps to learn how the electoral college works!


Civics, United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Watch the following video segment from a 2016 newscast.

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  • How does this happen?

Although the United States is a representative democracy where everyone gets to vote, the president is not elected by winning a popular vote!

When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they included a system for electing the president of the United States.

Since the U.S. government is a representative democracy, and open presidential elections are held every four years, many assume a popular vote elects the president. While the popular vote plays a role in a presidential election, the process is not that simple, and a majority popular vote does not necessarily create a victory!

The president is elected by winning the most significant number of votes from the Electoral College.

The Electoral College is one of the most controversial aspects of the U.S. government because of instances in which presidential candidates have won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote.

  • What are the pros and cons of this system?

Start by reading Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2-4 of the U.S. Constitution.

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  • How is a president elected?
  • What do they need a majority of to win?

Presidents are elected by winning the Electoral College vote. To learn more, watch the following video.

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There are many arguments for and against the Electoral College.

One of the main reasons the Electoral College remains controversial is that a presidential candidate can win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote. As you saw in the opening video, this happened in 2000 and again in 2016.

Read the following articles to explore further. As you do, make a pro and con list stating reasons why a person may favor or disagree with the Electoral College.

After reading each article and creating your pro and con list, find a friend or family member and explain the Electoral College to them. Be sure to explain how the Electoral College works and why a person may favor or oppose it.

Now, move to the Got It? section to see where each state stands.

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