A Short History of Presidential Election Crises (and how to prevent the next one)

By Alan Hirsch MA ’12, Lecturer in Humanities, Chair of Justice and Law Studies. City Lights Books, March 2020. What happens when a U.S. presidential election becomes controversial? A close election in 2000 tested the limitations of the current system, and President Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election again pushed the nation toward chaos. But these are not new developments: Three elections in the 1800s left the U.S. without a clear winner, and others have been remarkably close. Through close examination of the Constitution and the historical context of its authorship—and taking into consideration modern threats to the voting process that undermine its legitimacy—Hirsch proposes nonpartisan solutions to election crises, including establishing a presidential election review board and abolishing the electoral college.