“In her concession speech on Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton did not mention the popular vote, an omission that seemed to signal her desire to encourage a smooth and civil transition of power… But her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, wasted little time highlighting her higher vote total than the president-elect in introducing her. And the disparity left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Democrats, whose party won the country’s national popular vote for the third consecutive election but no longer controls any branch of government… The Electoral College is a relic that violates the democratic principle of one person, one vote, and distorts the presidential campaign.” J. Mahler and S. Eder, The New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: The Electoral College Is Hated by Many. So Why Does It Endure? By Jonathan Mahler and Steve Eder The New York Times
“None of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters have gone so far as to suggest that the popular vote tally should delegitimize Trump’s victory, and the popular vote margin in Tuesday’s election was in fact narrower than the one that separated Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore in 2000.
But the results are already renewing calls for electoral reform. I personally would like to see the Electoral College eliminated entirely, said David Boies, who represented Mr. Gore in the Florida recount in 2000. I think it’s a historical anomaly.
Some states have discussed a possibility that would not necessarily require amending the Constitution: jettisoning the winner-takes-all system, in which a single candidate is awarded all of a state’s electoral votes — regardless of the popular vote — and instead apportioning them to reflect the breakdown of each state’s popular vote. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, already do this. But even that approach could face challenges, said Laurence H. Tribe, a professor at Harvard Law School.
For reformers, the best hope may lie in the so-called National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement among states to award all of their respective electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote in a given election. So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have joined the agreement. But it will only go into effect when enough states have signed on to guarantee that the winner of the popular vote will win the election.”
“The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide (i.e., all 50 states and the District of Columbia). It has been enacted into law in 11 states with 165 electoral votes, and will take effect when enacted by states with 105 more electoral votes. The bill has passed one chamber in 12 additional states with 96 electoral votes.”
Learn More About the Current Movement for The Popular Vote Interstate Compact
Additional Lesson plans:
“No, the electoral college is not the worst team in the ACC. It’s the group of people who actually elect the president of the United States. How the electoral college works is one of the more complicated parts of the American electoral process — or can be, at least, when things don’t go smoothly. This guide will explain how the electoral college works; discuss the origins and development of the electoral college as some controversial elections; and examine how much your vote actually “weighs” in an election”.-David Walbert-
“Did you know that voters in the United States don’t vote for the president? People actually vote for a group of electors when they go to the polls on Election Day. These electors have pledged to support a party’s nominee for president. In many states the ballot lists only the names of the nominees and not the names of the electors, so many people believe they are voting for the president.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about the Electoral College. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- In the 2000 presidential election the Florida recount gripped the nation.
- She was a newly elected Democratic senator from New York.
- She was unequivocal in her response.
- I believe strongly that in a democracy.
- Mr. Gore was defeated in the presidential election.
- He made his concession speech in New York.
- People have been critical of the Electoral College in the past.
- The results are already renewing calls for electoral reform.
- There is an imbalance in the Electoral College that favors Republicans.
- Many feel that it is intolerable for democracy.
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
In November 2000, as the ___recount___ the nation, a newly ___Democratic senator from ___took a ___from an upstate___ tour to address the___that ___could wind up winning the ___but losing the presidential election.
WORD LIST: Al Gore, Florida, possibility, elected, gripped, New York, break, victory, popular vote,
Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage
Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.
- Sixteen year later, the Electoral College is still standing.
- But the results are already renewing calls for electoral reform.
- There were a variety of factors in the Electoral College.
- Some historians point to a critical role in the EC.
- Defenders of the system claim it reduces cheating.
- The EC will forever tip the balance to rural voters.
- Many people can’t think of any justification for it.
- It would requires a constitutional amendment to change.
- For reformers the best hope lies in the National Popular Vote.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
- Place students in groups and have each group list 3 questions they would like to pursue in relation to the article. Have groups exchange questions. Each group tries to answer the questions listed. All responses are shared as a class.
- Have each group write a paragraph explaining why or why not the Electoral College is a good idea. Students can get information from the web. All responses are shared as a class.
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.