Lesson Plan:  Elections in America

Application/Reflection: The Path to the White House

Distribute the worksheet entitled Assignment: The Path to the White House. (Available in Word 2000 or PDF format). Use the graphic to provide students with basic information on the electoral process for president. Review the following steps with students. Display the teacher edition of the worksheet using an overhead transparency of the document. Have students take notes on the worksheet in the area around the graphic. An excellent but detailed overview of the electoral process can be found in PDF format on-line at http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/politics/voting/crspres.pdf

Distribute a map of the United States with no labels. One is available on a separate sheet as 11.2.2 - The Electoral College.

Have students use their textbook or Internet to label the states and indicate how many electoral votes each state has. Be sure the students know how the states get the number of Electoral College votes that are assigned to them. The number of Electoral College votes is equal to the number of representatives each state has in the entire Congress. This number is equal to the number of members of the House of Representatives and the two senators that each state must have. The number of Electoral College votes can be represented with this formula:

HR + S = EV

· HR equals the number of members the state has in the House of Representatives. S will always be the number 2 because each state sends two senators to Congress. EV stands for electoral votes. If students compared the Electoral College map with a map of the number of House members each state has, they would notice that the former is always two more than the latter. Example: Maryland has 8 House members. It has 10 electoral votes.
· No state may have less than three electoral votes (1 representative and 2 senators)
· Washington, DC was given the right to vote in federal presidential elections even though it is not a state according to the 23rd Amendment (passed in 1961). It receives three electors. 
· The total number of electors (or electoral votes) is 538 (435 members of the House of Representatives + 100 senators [2 from each of the fifty states] + 3 electors for Washington, DC =538. 270 are needed to be declared the winner in the Electoral College.

Review the process of how the Electoral College is supposed to work. Inform students that the founding fathers created the Electoral College to amplify or exaggerate the popular vote for each state so the small states would not be left out of the process of electing the president. Visit http://www.270towin.com to demonstrate how the Electoral College works.

Discuss the problems with the Electoral College that took place with the 2000 Election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. A reliable source of information for both teachers and students is CNN’s Election 2000 archive at http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/

The “Electoral Battle Maps” shows how many electoral votes each candidate won and which states were “tossups.” http://www.cnn.com/interactive/allpolitics/0010/electoral.map/main.html

Have students respond to the following opinion questions orally or in writing (answers will vary. Encourage students to support their responses with facts):

1. Did the Electoral College work during the Election of 2000?
2. How could the system of electing a president have been improved during this election?

Periods 7 and 8: Geography Skills 

Have students use their textbook or encyclopedia to number the state according to the order in which it was admitted into the Union. Then distribute worksheet The Electoral College and Geography: the United States at a Glance (available in Word 2000 and PDF Formats).

Have students complete the chart in the library or using reference materials at their desks.
Assign each student a state to research and create a state flash card. 

Review the information orally when the class is ready. If desired, you can create a transparency of the answer sheet and have students check their own answers. Students should study for any quiz you might want to give on the names of the states and their historical information. An excellent overview of US History and geography can be found at http://www.animatedatlas.com/movie.html. This website includes an animated map that proceeds through the entry of each state into the Union.

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by…

1. The quality by which students respond to questions on political parties and elections;
2. The accuracy of students’ Electoral College maps.
3. Student’s scores on future tests and quizzes

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