This course meets in the second half of the semester (March 7 - April 19).
For decades, one of the most important aspects of American democracy – the process of electing candidates for public office – was also one of the least scrutinized and least understood. Today, this lack of understanding has helped place elections and voting at the center of a contentious public policy debate. This course will look under the hood of elections in the United States and examine the complex web of laws, regulations, and procedures that govern the process. We will cover various aspects of election administration including voter registration, open vs. closed primaries, early voting, voting equipment, post-election vote canvasses and recounts, as well as unique and controversial aspects of presidential elections. The news media’s significant role throughout the electoral process will be closely examined as well. The course will also address redistricting and gerrymandering, as well as numerous ways candidates and parties work within (and sometimes outside of) the election system to gain political advantage. We will examine the 2000 and 2020 presidential elections in particular detail, as well as examples from other federal, state, and local elections, along with comparisons with international systems. Students will be challenged to identify weaknesses in the current system and development policy prescriptions to address them.