Election 2012: Educational and Informational Resources for Students

Nov 06, 2012

Every four years, Americans have an opportunity that many around the world only wish for: to elect the leader of their country. Whether a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Progressive, Green, or any party affiliation in between, each and every American citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote for the President of the United States.

Today, November 6, 2012 is such a day.

Although the majority of our students are not old enough to vote, it is never too early to discuss the importance of voting and talk about the lengths that those before us went through to ensure that all Americans, regardless of gender, race or religion, can cast their ballot.

While the election process has surely been a topic of discussion in all students’ social studies classes, the following are a list of resources that students and parents can check out today to learn more about the voting process, and election and presidential history. There’s also a fun activity to do today, too. 2012 Election Resource Center has information on:

  • Meet the Candidates: Learn more about our 2012 Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
  • myWorld TikaTok Election Book: A fun resource for students to write their own digital book about the election.
  • Interactive Constitution: Check out our Interactive Constitution to learn more about executive power and how it pertains to the President of the United States of America.
  • Declaration of Independence Tour: As president it's important to know information about how the country was formed. Here get resources to help student study and learn more about the Declaration of independence.
  • Prentice Hall America: History of our Nation: A hands-on, digital, customizable resources to help students understand the history of the U.S. and how democracy has helped form our nation.
  • Mock Election: Get involved in the nation's largest civic education project – the 2012 My Voice National Student Mock Election.
  • The Idea of America: Provocative questions and intriguing content around the history of elections from our partner Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Biographies: Learn about presidents of the past. Read biographies of past presidents.
  • Symbols of America: Give your students a chance to interact with key symbols of our republic in a new and exciting way. | Understanding the Presidential Election Process 

  • This project teaches students about the electoral college and how presidential elections are decided by the electoral college, not the popular vote. (Ideal for students in grades 3 – 8)Students will:
    • Understand that elections are decided by the electoral college
    • See that each state has a number of electors, and understand how this number is determined
    • Examine election trends.

Materials needed


    • Ask if the students have heard of the Electoral College. If so, can anyone explain it? (The electoral college is technically responsible for electing the president.) Explain that each state has a particular number of electors, their numbers determined by how many senators and representatives a state has. On Election Day, as presidential candidates "win" a particular state by accumulating the most votes, they are awarded the number of delegates from that state. The candidate with the highest number of electoral votes wins the election. In December, the electors hold their own election to vote formally for President. The winning candidate will have at least half the electoral votes – or 270 delegates. (For a more thorough explanation of the Electoral College, see
    • Have students look at the List of States and Votes on the National Archives and Records Administration site on the electoral college's website: Ask a student to name a state that is physically large, then note the number of electoral votes. Try another state. By looking at California and Montana, for example, students will see that the physical size of a state does not correlate with its number of electoral votes. Why do they think this is? (Answer: Votes correspond to population, not size.)
    • Distribute a U.S. map to each pair and have students use the numbers from the National Archives website to fill in the number of delegates in each state on their map, using pencil or black ink.
    • Assign recent election years, starting with 2008 and moving back in time, to the pairs and direct them to the Electoral Votes by State section of the site ( Choose colors to represent republicans, democrats, and third-party candidates. Then have the students color in the states in pencil or crayon to show whether the electoral votes went republican or democrat for their year.
    • Hang the maps on the wall in chronological order. Identify and discuss voting trends and shifts in those trends over time, including regional differences. Has the South, for example, traditionally voted with a certain party? What do the students think the current presidential candidates might anticipate by way of votes? If they were running for president, would they spend more time in states that had traditionally voted for them or against them? Why?

(Sources:,; Pearson