Teach Kids About Election Day

The Difference Between the Popular Vote and Electoral College

Today is voting day in America. But do the kids you care for know (in fact do you know) that the candidates won’t be elected by the popular vote, but by the Electoral College?

Jennifer Lee of The Washington Post shared a great resource with me to share with nannies on our blog. Below is information about election day and an electorial map for kids to color. Click here to find child friendly activities and links to help teach kids about election day.

Popular vote: This is the total number of votes cast across the country. You might think that whoever wins the most votes becomes the president. That’s how it works most, but not all, of the time. Four times in our history — in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000 — the person who won the popular vote didn’t become president. So now you’re wondering how that can happen, right? Keep reading . . .

Electoral votes: When the American people vote, they are actually choosing people for something called the Electoral College. It is the Electoral College that actually chooses the president. Each state gets a number of electoral votes based on the state’s population. (Maryland has 10; Virginia gets 13 and Washington — which isn’t a state but still gets electors — has three.) That’s why states with a lot of electoral votes are important in the election. Also, in most states electoral votes are “winner take all” — so, for example, if Mitt Romney wins Florida by just one vote, he still gets all 29 of its electoral votes. There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs in Tuesday’s election. Whichever candidate gets 270 of them becomes the president. Download a tally sheet to help you add up the electoral votes — that’s the math worksheet part.

Click here for an electoral map for kids to color in.


  1. Winner take all? I has no idea. I think we need to rethink this voting process and make it the popular vote. Electoral college is insane.

  2. I love this site.

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