Believe me, when I was a pre-law student working on a degree in political science, we never studied a race to elect a new president resembling anything like the one America now faces. On the eve of this unprecedented and unpredictable presidential election, it's also a great teaching moment for teachers and parents of young kids. Truly, there couldn't be a better time than now to demonstrate by a real-time example to educate the next generation of voters about how our democracy's voting system works.
Seizing a Teachable MomentChildren, by nature are curious. So, when your son or daughter comes home from school on Election Day, don't be surprised if they ask you if you voted or how you voted on the candidates and/or issues on the ballot this year.
They might even ask you about who's winning the presidential election as polls turn their vote counts in -- your cue to bring up the electoral college and discuss it together to expand upon what they've been learning in class. Invite the youngsters to join you to watch your favorite news TV station or to hop online with you to visit media sites such as CNN, USA Today, the New York Times or others which will all be reporting results state by state as they happen.
To get the conversation started with your child, here are a few basic questions to ask and simple answers to have on hand about the election.
How Many Electoral Votes to Win?The Nation's president is elected not by popular votes (the total number of votes cast for each candidate's President/Vice President ticket nationwide) but by a system called the electoral college. There are 538 electoral votes in all, allocated across all 50 U.S. states in proportion to each state's individual population. States with the most votes include California (55), Texas (38) and New York (29), while at the other end of the spectrum there are seven states plus the District of Columbia which each get three electoral votes. To win, a candidate needs to reach a majority 270 electoral votes.
What Happens if Electoral Votes Are Tied?No one knows 100% for sure what the outcome will be, but if the polls are right, this could be a close contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Despite almost 100 different combinations of situations where a tie in the vote could result, most of the pundits believe in reality a 269 - 269 electoral vote tie is probably not going to happen. But, in the unlikely event a tie does occur, the U.S. House of Representatives will be tasked to choose the next president. With each of the 50 U.S. states getting a single vote, a majority of 26 out of those votes is needed to name the new President of the United States.
Learn more about the many other intricacies of the electoral college system at the non-partisan site 270towin.com.
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