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Lesson Plan by Lauren Martin M.Ed.

Electoral College

Pixton Lesson Plan on Electoral College

Make the U.S. presidential election come to life with comics!

Including these awesome activities:
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Featured Layouts

When students complete the activities in this lesson plan, they will use the following comic layout types.

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map
  • Poster

Your students will create amazing images like these in no time!

This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings the U.S. presidential election to life with comics and storyboards.
This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings the U.S. presidential election to life with comics and storyboards.
This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings the U.S. presidential election to life with comics and storyboards.

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Electoral College

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  • Envelope
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  • Flag
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  • Map
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  • Map
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Teacher Guide

Electoral College

Step 1Class discussion with students

Getting Started

In the United States, voters do not directly vote for the President. They vote for representatives who vote on their behalf, called the Electoral College. The Electoral College is a group of people appointed by each state to elect the President and Vice President of the United States. The Electoral College is made up of the United States Congress, which includes the Senate and House of Representatives. Essentially, the Electoral College is the same group of people as Congress, but it is the name given to their specific duty to elect the President and Vice President (since their primary legislative duty to create laws).

The Electoral College voting process was originally outlined in Article II, Section 1, Clause II of the Constitution which specifies how many electors each state is entitled to have.

There are 538 electors in the Electoral College of the United States Congress, 435 state representatives in The House of Representatives and 100 Senators in the Senate, plus 3 electors from the District of Columbia (which is not an official State).

In order for a Presidential Candidate to become President, they must win 270 electoral votes, 3 votes more than half of the Electoral College.

Every state receives two Senators (in the Senate and Electoral College). Every state also receives a certain number of Representatives (in the House of Representatives and Electoral College) based on the state's population. Every ten years a census is taken to determine each state's population. This means a state may gain or lose electors (House Representatives) every ten years. However, the number of electors has been 538 since 1964.

The votes of individual voters are called the Popular vote. The votes of the Electoral College members is called the Electoral vote. The Popular vote decides which candidate will win local and primary elections, while the Electoral vote decides who will win the Presidential election.

During local elections and the Presidential primaries, when many candidates are running to become the main candidate for their party (Republican or Democrat) every vote is counted to choose which Democratic nominee and which Republican nominee will run for President. This is a popular vote. Then, for the general Presidential election, individual voters vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate (or a third party candidate from the Libertarian, Green, or Energy parties). The electoral College from each state then votes based on this popular vote, voting for whoever the majority of their state's citizens voted for. So, if a majority (more than half) of individual voters vote for the Democratic nominee in the popular vote, then every elector in that state's electoral college will vote for the Democratic nominee. The President only needs to win slightly more than half of the popular vote in each state to win all of that state's electoral votes. The electoral votes of every state are then added up to select thePresident. Since every state has a different overall population, every state has a different number of electoral votes. The President can lose the overall popular election (by receiving less than half of all individual's votes), but still win the majority of electoral votes (270 of 538) and become President.

Some states, historically always have a majority of voters voting Democrat while other states always have a majority of states voting Republican. Other states are called "swing" states because the majority can swing either way, to Democrat or Republican. Every vote matters in the sense that individual voters can swing the vote to the Republican or Democratic candidate. However, many feel that every vote does not count in states where the majority of voters always votes one way so voters who vote the other way, and are in the small minority, cannot affect the majority electoral vote.

Opening Discussion

Review the above information with the following questions:

  • What is the Electoral College?
  • What is the Popular vote?
  • How is the Electoral vote decided?
  • How are the President and Vice President chosen?
  • Who makes up the Electoral College?
  • How is the electoral college related to Congress, The Senate and The House of Representatives?
Step 2Pixton comic-making activities
  • Make a Storyboard
    The Electoral College

    Complete after opening discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Storyboard or Mind Map
    Role of Congress

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Storyboard or Mind Map
    Popular vs. Electoral Vote

    Complete after class brainstorm.

    View Activity
  • Extension / Modification
    Mind Map (Extension / Modification)

    Create a Mind Map to show the relationship between Congress, The Senate, and The House of Representatives.

  • Extension / Modification
    Poster (Extension / Modification)

    Create a Poster of the United States to show Democratic, Republican and Swing States.

Step 3Concluding discussion with students

Discuss the following:

  • Do you believe every vote matters? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe there should be a popular vote instead of an elector vote to decide the President? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe more people would vote if there was solely a popular vote? Why or why not?
  • How does the electoral vote protect small states?
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Pixton Activity: Electoral College 1 The Electoral College

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard

Intro

Review the "Getting Started" Lesson information on the Electoral College.

Instructions

Create a Storyboard to describe the Electoral College:

  • Include an appropriate title for each panel.
  • Write a detailed description of the Electoral College members and powers.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Storyboard

The Electoral College by Student
Electoral College = CongressIn the United States, voters do not directly vote for the President. They vote for representatives who vote on their behalf, called the electoral college. The electoral college is a group of people appointed by each state to elect the President and Vice President of the United States. The electoral college is made up of the United States Congress, which includes the Senate and House of Representatives. Essentially, the electoral college is the same group of people as Congress, but it is the name given to their specific duty to elect the President and Vice President (since their primary legislative duty to create laws). 100 SenatorsThere are 538 electors in the Electoral College of the United States Congress, including 100 Senators in the Senate. 438 RepresentativesThere are 538 electors in the Electoral College of the United States Congress, including 435 state representatives in The House of Representatives plus 3 representatives for Washington D.C. The number of representatives is based on the population of the state. 270 Votes = PresidencyIn order for a Presidential Candidate to become President, they must win 270 electoral votes, 3 votes more than half of the 538 members of the Electoral College. Not a Popular VoteThe President only needs to win slightly more than half of the popular vote in each state to win all of that state's electoral votes. Since every state has a different overall population, every state has a different number of electoral votes. The President can lose the overall popular election (by receiving less than half of all individual's votes), but still win the majority of electoral votes to become President.

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Pixton Activity: Electoral College 2 Role of Congress

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map

Intro

A common misconception is that the Electoral College is different than Congress. The Electoral College is made up of the same people who make up Congress, and Congress is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senate has 100 members. Every state has 2 Senators who are elected every 6 years. They must be at least 30 years old, have been a US citizen for at least 9 years, and live in the state they represent. Unlike the House, only the Senate can confirm (or deny) presidential appointments for the Supreme Court and the Cabinet, ratify a treaty by a two-thirds vote, or try impeachment cases to find officials guilty or not guilty.

The House of Representatives has 435 members. Each state has a different number of representatives based on the state’s population. Representatives are elected every two years. They must be 25 years old, have been a US citizen for at least 7 years, and live in their state. The representatives all vote for the leader of the House of Representatives called the Speaker of the House. If something happened to the President and Vice President, the Speaker of the House would become the President. Unlike the Senate, only the House can introduce legislation specifically about revenue, or introduce misconduct charges (that can lead to Senate-led impeachment trials for federal officials, including the President).

Instructions

Review the information on the House and Senate's roles in addition to their role in the Electoral College and then create two Mind Maps or Storyboards to describe the members and powers of each:

  • Include an appropriate title for each panel.
  • Write a detailed description of the House or Senate's members.
  • Write a detailed description of the House or Senate's powers.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

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