What is the Electoral College?

Finding a Sequence

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

The Electoral College is a process, not a place! But how does it work? 

Read the basic steps in the process below. Then look at the images that follow and click on the orange "open in new window" icon for each one to see it more closely. Put the images in the correct order following the electoral college process (not by date on the documents since they are from different elections.) Click "Show Hints" for help.

  1. U.S. citizens cast their vote in the general election. But when a person votes for a Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate, they're actually voting for the slate of electors representing their choice for President and Vice President.
  2. Based on a state's election results, the electors who represent those candidates are appointed and the governor prepares "Certificates of Ascertainment" naming those people as electors.
  3. Electors meet in their state and vote for President and Vice President on separate ballots. They record their votes on "Certificates of Vote."
  4. The Certificate of Ascertainment and Certificates of Vote are paired together and the electors sign, seal, and certify the electoral votes. They are sent to the President of the United States Senate (and the National Archives).
  5. Congress counts the electoral votes in a joint session of Congress and the President of the Senate announces who has been elected.
  6. The President-elect and Vice President-elect take the Oath of Office and become the President of the United States and Vice President of the United States on Inauguration Day.


Name:
Class:

Worksheet

What is the Electoral College?

Finding a Sequence

Examine the documents in this activity. Put the corresponding document numbers in order using the list below. Write your conclusion response in the space provided.

1
2
3
4
5
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Hints for this Activity


  1. Citizens cast their vote in the general election.
  2. The electors who were chosen in a state are recorded on a "Certificate of Ascertainment."
  3. Electors meet and record their votes on "Certificates of Vote."
  4. States send their electoral votes to the President of the United States Senate.
  5. Congress counts the electoral votes in a joint session of Congress.
  6. The President-elect and Vice President-elect are sworn in on Inauguration Day.


1

Activity Element

Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 1



2

Activity Element

Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 4



3

Activity Element

Certificate of Ascertainment

Page 1



4

Activity Element

Mrs. T.H. Fresdahl, Age 82, Casts Her Vote

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5

Activity Element

1988 Presidential Election Electoral College Tally

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6

Activity Element

President-elect Clinton takes the oath of office as the nation`s 42nd President one minute before noon on the West side of the Capitol

Page 1



Conclusion

What is the Electoral College?

Finding a Sequence

Answer the questions below in preparation for a class discussion:

The Founders established the Electoral College in the Constitution, in part, as a compromise between the election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote. Since the process is part of the original design of the Constitution, it would be necessary to pass a Constitutional amendment to change this system.

  1. What are the benefits of the Electoral College system for electing the President?
  2. What are the drawbacks (or negatives)?

Many different ideas for changing the Presidential election process have been suggested over the years, such as direct nation-wide election by voters. But no proposals have been passed by Congress and sent to the States for ratification as a Constitutional amendment. Under the most common method for amending the Constitution, an amendment must be proposed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the States.

  1. Do you think that Congress should suggest an amendment to change how we elect a President? What is your suggestion?


Your Response




Document


Mrs. T.H. Fresdahl, Age 82, Casts Her Vote

Page 1



Document


Certificate of Ascertainment

Page 1



Document


1988 Presidential Election Electoral College Tally

Page 1



Document


Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 1



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 2



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 3



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 4



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 5



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 6



Document


Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 1



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 2



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 3



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 4



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 5



Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote of Massachusetts Electors for Abraham Lincoln for President, and Andrew Johnson for Vice President, in the 1864 Presidential Election

Page 6



Document


President-elect Clinton takes the oath of office as the nation's 42nd President one minute before noon on the West side of the Capitol

Page 1


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