THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE
a Student Webquest by: Damian Wulff
You go to the polls and cast your vote and the candidate with the most votes is the new president, right? Not Quite! All you're really doing is telling a group of electors from your state who you would like them to vote for when they cast the ballots that actually elect the president about a month later. Does that seem right? Did you know our election process worked that way? Together, the electors from each state make up the Electoral College and it's the Electoral College that ultimately decides who wins the election and becomes the next President of the United States. How and why was the Electoral College created? Has it ever really influenced the results of an election? Should we keep it around for future elections? These are the questions before you.
What you need to do is research the history of the Electoral College and decide whether it's an institution we need as part of our election process or something we ought to do away with. Be prepared to participate in a class debate on that question and, then, to write a 2-3 page persuasive essay expressing the reasons for your opinion. To do this, use the resources provided to examine why the Electoral College was originally created and how it functions today. Also, review the four elections in which it has figured most prominently (especially the 2000 Bush v. Gore election) and play with Electoral College calculator to see how the vote in each state can potentially influence an election. Finally, consider some of the common arguments for and against the continuation of the Electoral College for future elections.
1. Research the issue using the resources provided.
2. Participate and, as necessary, take notes during the class debate.
3. Write an editorial (2-3 pages) in support of or opposition to maintaining the Electoral College.
Grading Criteria (pts.)
Editorial is poorly organized. Lacks clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Editorial is adequately organized. Introduction, body, and conclusion are present but less than thorough. Editorial is well organized. Introduction, body, and conclusion are present and thorough.
Content Accuracy (15)
Editorial includes many historical and factual inaccuracies. Editorial contains minor historical or factual mistakes. Editorial is historically and factually accurate throughout.
Issue Framing (40)
Editorial poorly explains the debate and does not outline arguments on both sides. Editorial adequately outlines the debate and attempts to present arguments on each side, but is less than clear. Editorial clearly defines the debate and thoroughly summarizes arguments on each side.
Position Expression (30)
Editorial does not defend a position and/or fails to provide supporting reasons. Editorial takes a position and offers some sporting reasons. Editorial takes a position and offers strong supporting ideas.
The Electoral College has been, and continues to be, a critical part of our presidential election process. To not understand what it is, why it exists, and how it functions is to not understand that process. The goal of this webquest was to familiarize you with the Electoral College and to increase your awareness of how it influences the outcome of each and every presidential election. The next election is now just over two years away. Do you know how many electoral votes are at play in your state? Do you know which candidate received the electoral votes from your state in the previous election? Knowing the answers to these kinds of questions and understanding how the Electoral College works should help you to see how you and your friends really can have a voice in determining who leads the United States of America and deciding what we, as a nation, stand for.