This spring marks the start of the 2012 Presidential election campaign. In early April, President Barack Obama announced his reelection bid for the White House. Tonight, May 5, the first official GOP Presidential debate will take place in South Carolina. America’s electoral system is quite unique and often quite confusing. Although our country is frequently described as a democracy, the US is a republic: a system of governance where citizens determine who will hold office. The President is selected by the people in each of the states through a system known as the Electoral College.
Throughout America’s 235 years, the Electoral College has been subject to various stresses and controversies and most elections go off without a hitch. The system was designed by James Wilson of Pennsylvania, and though the spirit of Wilson’s system survives today, the Electoral College has been subjected to revisions as problems arose (most prominently the 12th Amendment). As part of our Presidents & the Constitution curriculum, the Institute created a video explaining the history of America’s electoral system.
As we head forth into this election season, be sure to use this video to help equip your students with a proper understanding of the history, benefits, and shortcomings of America’s electoral system. Does the Electoral College create a democratic process that respects both the people and the states? What are some ways the system could be improved, if at all?
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