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The United States Electoral College, although not often in the limelight, certainly has had its share of headlines during this post-election season. Now the country is abuzz with talk about the entire system. What exactly is the Electoral College? Why did the founding fathers institute such an indirect method of election? Should we change to a direct popular vote? Explore the issues and the news at these five sites.
BrainPop: U.S. Presidential Elections
Faithful readers know how much I love the BrainPop animated movies. This one on Presidential Elections is no exception. After viewing the movie that briefly explains the election process, you’ll see a link to More About the Electoral College. The Electoral College slide show gives a bit more detail and ends with an interactive Electoral College map that shows how many electoral votes each state has. Use your mouse to zoom around the map, region by region.
Election of the President and Vice President
“The Electoral College is a method of indirect popular election of the President of the United States. The authors of the Constitution put this system in place so that careful and calm deliberation would lead to the selection of the best-qualified candidate.” This page, geared for high school students, is part of the wonderful Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government, created by the U.S. Government Printing Office. To access explanations appropriate for younger students, return to the home page, and choose from grade levels K-2, 3-5, or 6-8.
“The current election is not the first disputed election in American history. The first election which ended in a dispute was the election of the 1800…. No one had the majority of votes, and the election was turned over to the House of Representatives. The House deliberated from February 11th to February 17th and voted 36 times. On the 36th ballot Thomas Jefferson was selected, but the country had come very close to having Aaron Burr as President.” In addition to a great history of disputed presidential elections, Elections Central has an excellent feature explaining why the founding fathers instituted the Electoral College.
Electoral College Calculator
Direct from the National Archives and Records Administration, comes the official Electoral College Calculator. If you were to run for president, where would you focus your campaign? If you got California’s fifty-four electoral votes and New York’s thirty-three electoral votes, how many small states could you afford to lose? Try your hand at either running a pretend election, or predicting a real one with this fun interactive calculator.
Scholastic Election 2000
“So far, more than 103,000 students have participated in our latest poll: Should the President be chosen by popular vote or by the Electoral College? The first two days of the poll, most people responding voted for Electoral College. The tide then turned and popular vote became the popular choice.” In addition to live weekly student polls, Scholastic has terrific kid-sized coverage of election news and issues.