Leading up to the swearing-in ceremony for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Commonwealth’s chief advocate for civic engagement, is helping teach Kentucky students about the Electoral College process.

Grimes developed and provided to schools across the state a video and written materials to supplement civics curriculum. She has also made in-school presentations on the topic.

“The presidential election is an excellent opportunity to engage students and encourage them to be active citizens,” said Grimes. “I hope that if they understand the process, they will be more likely to participate when they reach voting age.”

Grimes recently spoke about the electoral process with more than 100 students at Henry Clay High School in Lexington. Social studies teacher Scott Brown said, “I appreciate Secretary Grimes’ dedication to civic engagement and her ability to connect with Kentucky’s youth. I hope teachers across the state will take advantage of the Electoral College materials to help engage their students.”

There are 538 members of the Electoral College. Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of its U.S. senators plus its U.S. representatives. Kentucky has eight presidential electors.

On Election Day every four years, voters from each state choose their electors by casting ballots for the candidates of their choice. In most states, including Kentucky, the candidates who receive the most votes are awarded all of the state’s electoral votes.

In December after the election, the electors from each state meet in their respective capitals to cast their votes for president and vice president. Certificates of vote are sent to the Congress, and on January 6th following the election, the president of the U.S. Senate opens and reads before a joint session of Congress each state’s electoral votes. The candidates who received a majority of at least 270 electoral votes are declared to have been elected president and vice president of the United States. The new president and vice president are sworn in at noon on January 20th.

Since taking office, Grimes has worked to engage Kentucky students of all ages through classroom visits, a mock election program, the 24th Annual Essay and Slogan Contest, and vice presidential debate-related curriculum and forums. She is currently traveling to colleges and universities across the state to discuss with leaders in education, business and government ways to improve Kentucky’s overall civic health.

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