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Fall 2020 Seminar

Presidential Elections: War Gaming 2020

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

The actual process for selecting the President is enormously complicated. Beyond the complexity of the Electoral College, described in the Constitution, the process is putatively governed by the Electoral Count Act, a 19th-century statute shot through with ambiguity and uncertainty. In any election, it creates uncertainty. But in an election such as 2020, its ambiguity could be catastrophic.

This seminar will map the possibilities for this election under the Electoral Count Act, and produce, collectively, a flowchart to help the public understand what might happen when. With each node, students will prepare an outline of the open issues and possible complications. Ideally, we’ll be able to code clear questions as distinct from less clear. The class will begin with a deep dive into the Electoral Count Act, and the questions it raises. Very quickly, students will identify the parts of the puzzle they want to focus on, and present their findings beginning in week 3.