Examine a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to abolish the electoral college and to provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President of the United States.
How do Americans elect their President? Would a new system be more fair to the people? How would states, voters, and presidential candidates be affected by changing the process of presidential elections? This lesson examines the Electoral College, the unique process the United States follows to elect the President, and whether we should end it through a proposed constitutional amendment described in Senate Joint Resolution 17 (S.J. Res. 17). Currently, when people vote for a candidate for President of the United States they are not voting directly for that candidate, but for a group of people known as electors who will represent their state in the Electoral College and cast the actual votes which elect the President. S.J. Res. 17 calls for the President and Vice President to be elected by direct popular vote. Voters would vote for the President and Vice President, and the pair of candidates with the most votes would be elected to office.
A joint resolution operates much like a bill in most cases, requiring passage by both the Senate and House of Representatives. Unlike an ordinary bill, however, only a joint resolution can be used to propose an amendment to the United States Constitution. As such, a joint resolution requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers in order to pass, and then goes to the states for ratification.
Use this lesson plan to explore the issue and prepare to conduct a Senate debate.