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December 15, 2020

Classroom resource: Electoral College confirms Joe Biden for president

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. A transcript of the video is available here

Summary: On Monday, the Electoral College formally cast a majority of votes for Joe Biden. It was unlike any vote the College, and the country, had seen before.

  • “Usually, the Electoral College meeting is a sleepy event,” said Rebecca Green, professor at the College of William & Mary, “This year is unprecedented, in that we have a presidential candidate who has refused to concede. And that has kind of complicated the post-election period.”
  • Some electors, like those in Nevada, met virtually, and others imposed social distancing and COVID tests. In a few Biden states, Republican lawmakers held essentially mock ceremonies, listing electors who would have voted for President Donald Trump.
  • During his speech, Biden called Trump’s attacks on voting “unconscionable.” Trump has launched dozens of lawsuits for weeks to reverse the outcome of the election with unproven accusations of voter fraud in the swing states that gave Biden his victory.
  • For Biden’s full speech after the Electoral College cast its votes, click here.

Discussion: 

Warm up questions: 

  1. What is the Electoral College? (see this lesson here for more info)
  2. Who was involved the Electoral College’s confirmation of Joe Biden?
  3. Why do we have an Electoral College?
  4. When and where were votes by the Electoral College cast?
  5. How is the Electoral College vote for Biden different than in past elections?

Focus question:

  1. Do you think Joe Biden’s goal of unifying the country despite serious political differences is possible? What will it take?
  2. Do you think we should get rid of the Electoral College?
    • If time allows, conduct some research on the subject with this lesson here or by visiting ProCon.org here.

Media literacy: Do you think it’s necessary for news outlets to show comments made by electors of each state before they cast their vote? What about those who dissented from the historical proceedings, including some Republicans who held mock ceremonies, listing electors who would have voted for Trump? 


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