Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Electoral College and Voting

After Mass this morning, I took our younger kids to go and vote.  I'm always so grateful for the opportunity to vote.  I was personally surprised at how easy the ballot was this year in our district.  Both our (excellent) state Senator and state Representative ran unopposed--I liked getting to show the kids how I could only vote for one person in quite a few races.

The kids got stickers, too!  As a side note, our youngest really, really wants the chance for kids to vote.  We are all wearing our stickers proudly.

We've had some discussions in recent days about the electoral college, and what that means. I subscribe to the lovely blog Like Mother, Like Daughter and a recent post  gave some ideas and links to help kids (and grown-ups!) learn about the electoral college, and work to call the election one way or another.  So we are taking a little break today from regular schoolwork, and our very halting start at kids NaNoWriMo, to do math, geography and other subjects via politics.

We printed off multiple copies of this map, and right now the kids are working to color in the likely states for each candidate.  They are using the Real Clear Politics website's predictions as a start, because there are so many "toss-ups" listed, and it gives us the opportunity to check the latest polls and make our own predictions. 

Our 12-year-old just pointed out, "Romney has more states, but Obama has states with more elecctoral votes."    They are just getting to their predictions, but the Real Clear Politics site provides many, many polls for each state, so the kids will have a chance to see who's likely to win each of those states.  After discussions about the margin of error in polling, the nine-year-old has decided to flip a coin for each toss-up state; not a bad plan. 

After they finish this map, they will start on a new set of maps based on the FiveThirtyEight blog, run by Nate Silver for the New York Times (note to self: make a request at the library his new book, The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail, But Some Don't--I've heard an interview or two with him and keep meaning to check out the book).  

The Five Thirty Eight map is more "filled in" (for some time, it has been calling the race for Obama) and I will be interested to see whether the kids' predictions match Silver's own predictions. 

I took the time to do some reading up on both websites, and from what I can tell they are both reputable as far as details.  The former leans conservative; the latter leans liberal.  Regardless of their political bent, the sites seem well-respected by most, and by each other.

Kind of late to the party, I have (just today, if I'm being honest!), put on hold a number of youth books at the library about the electoral college and presidential politics.  Doing so reminds me about one of our favorite authors, Jean Fritz, who has written many, many excellent books about American history and presidents.  I love everything I've read of hers, but probably my favorite is Homesick: My Own Story, her memoir of living in China as a child.  She is still writing books; here's a look at her book newly published last year about Alexander Hamilton.   If I'm still alive at 95 years old, I hope I am still writing.

Have you voted yet?  Are you doing anything special to mark today? 

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