Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

Dan Tokaji's Blog Links Publications & Working Papers
Equal Vote
Friday, February 1
Electoral College Symposium
The Michigan Law Review has published this online symposium on "Recent Proposals for Electoral College Reform." It includes my contribution, entitled "An Unsafe Harbor: Recounts, Contests and the Electoral College," which addresses the interaction between federal laws structuring the Electoral College process and state laws regarding post-proceedings. From the introduction:
Although recent proposals for modifying the Electoral College process have focused mainly on how electoral votes are assigned, another problem with the current system has received less attention: the timetable for resolving post-election disputes over electors. Under 3 U.S.C. 5, the so-called "safe harbor" provision of federal law, a state can be assured of having its chosen slate of electors recognized only if post-election disputes are resolved within thirty-five days of Election Day. As a practical matter, this provision doesn't provide states enough time to complete recount and contest proceedings in the event of a close, contested election....

This Commentary addresses the tension between the federally prescribed Electoral College dates and state procedures for resolving close elections. I first discuss the federal timetable for selecting electors and counting their votes. I then move to a discussion of the difficulties in fitting state post-election proceedings into the federal timetable. Finally, I propose changes to federal law designed to give states more time to resolve post-election disputes.
The symposium also includes commentaries from Thomas Hiltachk, Sam Hirsch, John Mark Hansen, Ethan Leib & Eli Mark, Alexander Belenky, and Daniel Rathburn. All are mercifully concise and well worth reading. A PDF of the entire symposium is available here.

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