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Electoral versus popular vote


  • Civics


  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief description

Students learn the workings of the Electoral College with this simple activity.


Students gain an understanding of how, in a presidential election, the winner of the popular vote might not be the winner of the electoral vote -- and, therefore, not win the election.


electoral vote, election, president, campaign

Materials needed [shop materials]

  • snack foods

Lesson plan

Tell students that you will be providing a snack for the entire class the next day. Give them the option of two equally desirable (and healthful!) snacks, and explain that they are going to vote for the snack you'll provide. Arrange students into groups of varying sizes, and assign one student to be the representative for each group. Have members of each group vote on the snack they want, and ask each group's representative to tally the votes and then cast one vote for the entire group. After the representatives have cast their votes and the snack has been determined, poll the entire class to learn their individual votes. Determine whether the popular vote and the "electoral vote" produced the same result.


Have students explain in a paragraph how it might be possible that the presidential candidate who gets the most votes might not be the election winner.

Lesson plan source

Education World

Submitted by

Linda Starr