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Fixing Bugs in Democracy: the Electoral College

Organizer: Princeton Gerrymandering Project

In collaboration with Labyrinth Books, the Princeton Gerrymandering Project will host a Fixing Bugs in Democracy talk on the Electoral College. The Fixing Bugs in Democracy series features experts discussing structural problems in American politics, and how we can fix them. Professor and Director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project Sam Wang will introduce author Jesse Wegman and professor Julian Zelizer.

The framers of the Constitution battled over it. Lawmakers have tried to amend or abolish it more than 700 times. To this day, millions of voters, and even members of Congress, misunderstand how it works. It deepens our national divide and distorts the core democratic principles of political equality and majority rule. How can we tolerate the Electoral College when every vote does not count the same, and the candidate who gets the most votes can lose? Isn't it time to let the people pick the president?

In this thoroughly researched and engaging call to arms, Supreme Court journalist and New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman draws upon the history of the founding era, as well as information gleaned from campaign managers, field directors, and other officials from twenty-first-century Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, to make a powerful case for abolishing the antiquated and antidemocratic Electoral College. He shows how we can at long last make every vote in the United States count—and restore belief in our democratic system. He is joined for a conversation about his new book by political historian Julian Zelizer.

Location: Webinar

Saul Loeb/Getty Images

The Supreme Court has been conducting oral arguments by conference call this week.

Justices of all stripes eye chaos if presidential electors are allowed to go rogue

The Supreme Court spent two hours Wednesday imagining a world in which presidential electors would be free to vote for whomever they choose. It was not a pretty picture, judging from questions and concerns raised by both liberal and conservatives justices.

While predicting rulings from such oral arguments is a dicey proposition, the tone of the deliberations pointed toward good news for those who believe members of the Electoral College may be compelled to vote for the popular vote winner in their state, the way it generally works now.

If the decision, expected in June, goes the opposite way, the prospect of electors going rogue would cast even more doubt on the predictability and reliability of democratic institutions in our polarized times.

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'Faithless Electors' Case

Organizer: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court hears an hour of oral arguments in the "faithless elector" case. The challenge is to laws in Washington and Colorado, which like most states require all their electors to vote for the ticket that wins the statewide popular vote. A decision that members of the Electoral College have a constitutional right to vote as they wish could upend the presidential election system.

Location: Streaming for the media

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