October 28, 2024

MANGO Math is sure you are very aware of the upcoming general election. While it can be contentious and overwhelming, it does not have to be all about politics; it can also be about math! What better time to discuss how our presidential election works and use logic, reasoning and math to better understand the process.

The US Constitution sets forth an electoral vote process. This means that when Americans cast their votes for president, they are in reality directing other people – called Electors to vote for the candidate who receives the most votes in their state. The Electors are equal to the total members of Congress (Senators & House of Representatives) each state has representing them. The Constitution dictates that each state has two Senators (total of 100 Senators) and the number of House of Representatives (current total of members 435) is determined by population as provided by the Census, which takes place every 10 years. Adding in the 3 electoral votes for Washington DC, the total amount available is 538.

To win the presidential election, a candidate needs 270 electoral votes (half of the total electorate plus one).

Two states, Maine and Nebraska, have passed laws that allow their electorates to split their votes. Two votes in each state goes to the popular vote of the state, the remaining votes (2 in Maine, 3 in Nebraska) to the popular vote winner in each congressional district.

As you can see, all the information to determine an election is about numbers. Math plays an especially important role in our election process.

MANGO Math has created a fun nonpartisan game to get students involved in the electoral process. This game relies on students rolling a dice to determine who wins what state after strategically picking which states to target. Download MANGO Math’s ‘General Electoral Math’ lesson** ****here**** **for more information on how to play!

See the attached map with each state electoral vote count or a virtual one at this link (https://www.270towin.com/). On the map there are some states that are red and some that are blue. This means that historically these states have voted one way, that does not mean this is the way these states are leaning in this election. A presidential candidate would apply these states' electoral votes in their vote count.

You might have heard the phrase, “won the election but lost the popular vote.” What does that mean? There are some states that hold a high population of Americans; like CA, NY, TX, FL. But with a limited number of total electors available, these high population states can only have so many electors and that number is the only amount that can be represented when selecting a president.

**ELECTION DAY MATH ACTIVITY:**

**Needs:**

- Lesson PDF (
**here**) - Students will need dice or a number generator
- An electoral US map (PDF is with the lesson, virtual can be found here)

**Object:**

The object of the activity is to reach 270 votes to win the election.

**Instructions:**

- Students will divide up into a blue team and a red team. They will use the map, with colored red and blue states, to determine their starting total of electoral votes.
- Students then select a state they want to try and win.
- To win a state, each player on each side rolls the dice and adds that amount onto the other players in their team’s total. some text
- Example: If a student wants to win Florida’s 29 electoral votes, each player on the blue side rolls dice and adds up total. Then, each player on the red side does the same. The team with the highest total number will win the state.

- The team that did not win the state gets the selection of the next state
- Students continue selecting states until one team has reached the 270 total and becomes the President.
- If there should be a tie in any state (like each team has rolled the same total), that state's electoral vote is put on hold, and students will continue. If neither team can reach 270 without that state's electoral vote, they can go back and reroll that state (in reality, they would recount the votes to see if there were any miscounts and if still tied some states have gone to a coin toss!)
- Congratulations to the winner! Although the election is held on the first Tuesday in November, the winner cannot be sworn into office until January 20th (or January 21st if the 20th is a Sunday).

For an added challenge, try this activity by taking out Texas, New York and California (the most populous states) and find a path to 270.