Lesson Plan

What is the Electoral College?

USA Map with American flag colors and stars


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Civics Lesson

GRADE LEVEL: High School

What is the Electoral College? How is the Electoral College Democratic or Not?

In the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, President Donald Trump won even though he did not win the popular vote. Why? He won the Electoral College vote. In other moments in U.S. History, the presidential candidate who won the popular vote was not elected, as the other candidate won via the Electoral College (including George W. Bush in 2000). These election results have led to an increasing number of people calling for an end to the Electoral College. And yet, despite rising interest in dismantling the Electoral College, the historic precedent, and the lingering questions and concerns about its potential replacement, have allowed it to endure.

About the Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will learn about the Electoral College and its origins, as well as the more contemporary movement advocating for the National Popular Vote and the interstate compact that would support it.




  • Explain the rationale for having the Electoral College.
  • Explain the rationale for dismantling the Electoral College.
  • Prepare for a Philosophical Chair dialogue on whether the Electoral College should be eliminated.