Exam Type: In Class
Presidential elections are a uniquely consequential aspect of American democracy, yet they are governed by a distinct legal framework that can be ambiguous or under-developed with respect to critical questions. This course examines the origins and substance of the laws governing presidential elections, focusing on the historical circumstances (and crises) that forged much of our current legal framework, as well as the disputes that that legal framework has generated in recent elections. It will also examine ongoing policy debates, including recent changes to the Electoral Count Act and other policy recommendations growing out of the work of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as longstanding debates about the Electoral College and potential alternatives. Where does the law of presidential elections provide a clear structure, and what questions does it leave unanswered? What substantive values – and what conceptions of the presidency – does it advance? How might we design a more desirable or more durable legal and political framework? These are the questions driving this course.