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    Steps In Selecting A President

Instructional Objectives
Background Information
Extension Ideas


Students use a flowchart to understand the process of electing the president and vice-president.

Instructional Objectives

By using the activities of this lesson, the students will:

  1. use a flowchart to analyze the steps in selecting an American president;
  2. relate the information in a flowchart to the 2000 election;
  3. develop an original flowchart that reflects some aspect of American government.

Background Information

Flowcharts can help students understand a multi-step process or complex idea. The inauguration of a president is the final step in a long process that begins almost two years before it is completed. The students should become familiar with the flowchart as well as the organization chart, since they often appear in government textbooks as well as in computer and business applications.

Flowcharts help outline the steps in a process. In this case, the electoral process has been outlined. Help the student use all the parts of the chart, including the title, boxes, and arrows, to gain information and draw conclusions on the basis of that information.


  1. Ask students to brainstorm a list about presidential elections. What do they know about the steps involved? List items first, then try to place them in sequential order. Why were many people upset with the process during the 2000 election?

  2. Research the presidential election process by visiting the following Web sites:

    Compare the information presented in these sites to assemble a comprehensive picture of the election process.

  3. Print or reproduce the flowchart related to this lesson. Have students answer the following questions:
    • How does this flowchart compare to the information gathered in the students' research? Is it oversimplified, as accurate, or more detailed than what they found elsewhere? What would they add or subtract from it?
    • At which step in the chart did Al Gore and George W. Bush become the choice of their political parties?
    • Two steps in this chart involve the voters of America. Which two steps include the voters?
    • Who casts the official votes for the president?
    • What is the final step in the electoral process?

  4. Create a time line for the 2000 presidential election that reflects the steps in this chart.

  5. Find newspaper and magazine articles, as well as Web pages, that contain the specific electoral event listed in each step of the chart. Create a larger version of the chart, and paste the articles near or on the step where the event in the article took place. The final result should be a pictoral-headline version of the flowchart.

  6. Have the students create their own flowchart on some aspect of American government, such as one of the following topics:
    • How a bill becomes a law
    • The impeachment process
    • Checks and balances of the three branches of government
    • The process to amend the Constitution of the United States
    • Selecting Cabinet members

The lesson may be evaluated through the following measures:

  1. the student's ability to build on prior knowledge of the election process, both in oral discussion and in graphic representation (flowcharts);

  2. the student's ability to compare information on the election process presented in several different online sources;

  3. the student's ability to transfer understanding of flowcharts to describe another government-related process.

Extension Ideas

  1. During the 2000 election, the electoral college came under scrutiny. For more information about the electoral college, visit Ask students to research the electoral college. Why was it created? Is it out of date? Debate this topic, create community surveys, and/or write op-ed pieces.

  2. Create a board game or an online game for younger students that explains the electoral process.

  3. Compare the process of selecting a national leader in several countries.