The Franchise: 1789
• Under the original constitution, who had the right to
   – for U.S. House?
   – for U.S. Senate?
   – for Presidential electors?
   – for state and local officials?
       The Franchise: 1789 (cont.)
• Voter qualifications (including for U.S. House and
  Presidential electors) were set entirely by state law
   – Proviso: The House of Representatives shall be composed of
     members chosen every second year by the people of the several
     states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifica-
     tions requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the
     state legislature. [Article 1, Section 2]
• Property-owning/tax-paying qualifications were common,
   – often scaled to level of office
• Perhaps 50% of adult white males were eligible to vote
  in early elections,
   – plus some free blacks (and even some women) were eligible to
     vote in some elections in some states.
           The Franchise: 1830s
• “Jacksonian Revolution”:
  – Almost all adult white males got the right to vote
  – Almost all Presidential electors were popularly elected
    (except in SC)
  – Voter mobilization campaigns by competing
    (Democratic and Whig) political parties greatly
    increased voting turnout, i.e.,
     • the proportion of eligible voters who actually cast votes.
  – Many non-whites (and most or all women) lost the
    right to vote (in so far as they previously had that
                 14th Amendment
• Section 1. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall
  abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;
  ...; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection
  of the laws.
• Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several
  states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole
  number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But
  when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for
  President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives
  in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the
  members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male
  inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and
  citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for
  participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation
  therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such
  male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens
  twenty-one years of age in such state.
              15th Amendment

• Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to
  vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States
  or by any state on account of race, color, or previous
  condition of servitude.
• Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce
  this article by appropriate legislation.
  The Franchise: Late 19th Century
• The “Jim Crow” regime was established in the
  – “Jim Crow” had two main elements:
     • de jure segregation; and
     • de facto disenfranchisement (poll tax, literacy test,
       grandfather clause, white primary, intimidation)
  – Blacks remain enfranchised outside the South (but
    few live outside the South)
• Women (re)gain the right to vote (in a broader
  range of elections) in many states (especially in
  the West).
  – 19th Amendment (1920)
     • The right of citizens of the United States to vote
       shall not be denied or abridged by the United
       States or by any state on account of sex.
    The Franchise: 20th Century
• 23rd Amendment (1963)
   – The District constituting the seat of government of the United States
     shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct a number of
     electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of
     Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would
     be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least
     populous state; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the
     states, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of
     President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a state; and
     they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by
     the twelfth article of amendment.

• 24th Amendment (1964)
   – The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other
     election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or
     Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not
     be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of
     failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
The Franchise: 20th Century (cont.)

• Voting Rights Act (VRA) (1965)
• 26th Amendment (1971)
  – The right of citizens of the United States, who
    are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not
    be denied or abridged by the United States or
    any state on account of age.
    The Franchise: Continuing Issues

• Failed 27th Amendment

   – Section 1. For purposes of representation in the Congress, election of
     the President and Vice President, and article V of this Constitution, the
     District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall be
     treated as though it were a State.

   – Section 2. The exercise of the rights and powers conferred under this
     article shall be by the people of the District constituting the seat of
     government, and as shall be provided by the Congress.

   – Section 3. The twenty-third article of amendment to the Constitution of
     the United States is hereby repealed.

   – Section 4. This article shall be inoperative, unless it shall have been
     ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-
     fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its
The Franchise: Continuing Issues (cont.)

• Felon disenfranchisement:
   – State laws vary

• Enfranchisement of (some) legal immigrants?

• Presumably the franchise should be uniform across all
  states and DC if the Electoral College were replaced by
  a direct national popular vote.
                     Voter Registration
•   Prior to the late 19th century, only informal voter registration systems exists:
     – probably a lot of fraudulent voting
     – “vote early and vote often”
•   States adopted voter registration laws in the late 19th century,
     – which produced an evident decline in total turnout.
•   Voter registration systems undoubtedly
     – reduced fraudulent voting, but also
     – may have had the effect of “vote suppression.”
•   Typically, people who were eligible to vote had to take some initiative to get
    themselves registered;
     – Moreover, registration list were periodically purged of non-voters.
•   Mid to latter part of 20th century, general liberalization of registration laws
    (by states, by courts, and by Congress)
     – “Motor Voter” Act (1993)
     – Help America Vote Act (2002) [provisional ballots]
•   Voter registration evidently remains something of a mess in many states
    and localities.
     – “deadwood” problem
•   There is uncertainty (and passionate academic disputes) concerning the
    typical turnout rate among registered voters.
                 Voting Turnout
• “Total actual vote”/ “Total potential vote”
• In the U.S. voting turnout is usually calculated as
   – total recorded vote for President, divided by
   – the census estimate of the voting age population (VAP)
• However, such turnout is often (mistakenly) characterized
  as the percent of eligible (or even registered) voters who
  actually voted.
• Poll workers who report “high” turnout on election night are
  looking at the number of voters who showed up as a
  percent of registered voters on their lists.
       Problems with PV/VAP
• Numerator misses
  – spoiled ballots
  – Presidential abstentions

• Denominator includes
  – (legal and illegal) immigrants
  – Institutionalized population
  – felons
  – but excludes eligible voters overseas
       Some Reasons for National
         Differences in Turnout
• Some countries have compulsory voting.
• Some countries make election day a holiday.
• Most countries have (national) voter enrollment (vs. state
  voter registration) systems,
   – in which case, turnout denominator is number of enrolled voters.
• U.S has unusually frequent elections with many
  offices/propositions at stake in each (“long-ballot”):
   – federal/state/local offices
   – separate executive and legislative (and sometimes judicial)
     elections, primaries (sometimes with runoffs)
   – referendums
   – plus primaries (and sometimes runoffs)
OEDC COUNTRIES (1960-2000)
Ballot Types and
  Ballot Access

• Early voting was
  informal, perhaps oral,
  otherwise voters had to
  create own ballots,
  hardly secret

• Mass party competition
  (1830s on) led to party
   – printed by parties
   – listing only party
   – distribution to party
   – hardly secret (differ-
      ently colored paper)
     Implications of Party Ballots

•   No “ballot access” problem
•   Hard for voters to “split ticket”
•   Enhances influence of party leaders
•   Easy to arrange (even on election eve)
    “fusion” between (major or minor) parties
  Australian Ballot Reform (~1890)

• Government prints ballots

  – all voters receive same ballot at polling place
  – ballots list all candidates for all offices
  – secures secret ballot
Implications of the Australian Ballot
• “Ballot access” must be regulated
     – filing fee, deposit, petition, etc.
•   It becomes much easier for voters to cast “split ticket”
•   It reduces the influence of party leaders and
•   It becomes harder to “fuse” party tickets.
     – In fact, “fusion” may be prohibited.
•   Partisan vs. non-partisan [Australian] ballots
     – U.K. vs. U.S. example
     – what information listed for each candidate?
     Fundamental Implication of a
      Partisan Australian Ballot

• Which candidate is entitled to be listed on the ballot
  under a given party label?

• This produces government [in U.S., state government]
  regulation of party organization and nominating
   – in particular, in the U.S. it led to primary elections,
   – by which a candidate is entitled to be identified on the
     ballot as a party nominee by virtue of winning a
     government-run election.
Two Formats for U.S. [Australian] Ballots
Party-Column/Line Ballot vs. Office Block Ballot
• This distinction is relevant only if
   – the ballot is partisan, and
   – two or more offices are at stake in a single election; and
   – it is especially relevant if many offices are at stake [“long ballot”]
• Party-Column/Line Ballot:
   – Such a ballot is set up so that all candidates of a given party
      appear in the same column or line.
   – In effect, it is several party ballots placed together on the same
   – It encourages “party ticket” voting.
   – It may provide for a “straight party” vote.
   – It raises the question of party order on the ballot.
• Office-Block Ballot:
   – Such a ballot groups together all candidates for a given office.
   – It encourages “split ticket” voting,
        • though it can (but usually does not) provide a “straight party” vote.
    – It raises the question of candidate order in each block.
A Party-

An Office-Block Ballot (Massachusetts 1956)
An Office
With a

The Notorious Butterfly Ballot
    Presidential Election Ballots
• Does the ballot make any reference to Presidential
• Does ballot list Presidential elector candidates
• Does ballot allow or require voters to vote for electors
• Does the ballot indicate the candidates to whom the
  elector candidates are pledged?
• Does state law allow “fusion” of elector candidate slates?


New York (1960) [allows “fusion”]

Alabama (1960)


 of electors
 But they
 exist =>
         Election Administration
• Prescribed by state law (with increasing but still
  secondary federal regulation)

• Administered by counties, often with in ballot technology
  etc. variation from county to county.

• Episodic tasks, heavily dependent on more or less
  volunteer labor

• Often party organizations are involved
  – Checks and balances?
              Voting Technology
• Paper ballots used universally into 20th century
• 1930s onwards
   – automated technology becomes available
   – long (and complex) ballots
• Lever machines
   – e.g., New York, Alabama
• 1950s
   – Punch cards machines
• 1960s
   – Optical scan machines
• 2000s
   – Touch-screen (“ATM”) machines
Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project
• Assessment of reliability of different voting technologies
• Rate of apparently spoiled ballots
   – residual votes = # names checked off minus votes for particular
   – undervotes vs. overvotes
   – does voter get feedback?
• Reliability, Security, and Verifiability
   –   Paper
   –   Optical
   –   Lever
   –   Punch card
   –   Touch-screen

  study of
  reliability of

  Institution, 2008
    Why does the U.S have bigger voting
 technology problems than other countries?

• “Long ballot”
   –   Federal system
   –   Multiple offices (plus propositions, etc.)
   –   Overlapping districts
   –   Need rapid counting at precinct level

• U.K. vs. typical U.S. election cycle
   – UK: MP, local councillor [MEP, MSP etc.]
   – US: President, US Senate, US House, Governor etc.; state
     Senator; state House; county executive or mayor, county &/or
     city council, school board, state &/or local judges etc; other
     offices; bond issues; propositions; initiatives [and primary &/or
     runoff elections]
   Other Administrative Issues
• Absentee ballots
  – excused vs. unexcused

• Early Voting

• Mail ballots (Oregon)
      House Size, Apportionment,
            and Districting
• Each of these factors, which pertain directly to House
  elections, is also relevant to Presidential elections.
   – House size and apportionment determine how many electoral
     votes state get (beyond the guaranteed floor of 3).
   – The Maine/Nebraska (Modified District) system of awarding
     electoral voters is based on Congressional Districts.

• House size is not fixed by the Constitution, except that
  “the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for
  every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least
  one Representative.”
  Implications of Increasing House
       Size for Electoral Votes
• Increasing the number of House seats allows a more
  precise apportionment among the states.

• Increasing the number of House seats reduces the
  impact of the 3-electoral vote floor relative to the total
  number of electoral votes.

• On both counts, increasing the size of the House
  increases proportionality in the allocation of Electoral
  Votes and, in particular, reduces the small state

• Changing House size can change the outcome of
  Presidential elections (all else equal).
 House Size and the 2000 Election
• In 2000, Bush carried 30 states and Gore 21 (including DC), so
   – on the basis of “House” Electoral Votes only, Gore would have
      beaten Bush:
       • Bush: 271 – 60 = 212
       • Gore: 267 – 42 = 225

• 2000 was the first time since 1916 that an electoral vote victory
  turned on “Senatorial” electoral votes.
• And it was the first time since 1876 that a popular vote loser became
  an electoral vote winner on the basis of “Senatorial” electoral votes.
• As a result, a larger House size could have given Gore an overall
  [House + Senatorial] Electoral Vote victory.
• But, perhaps surprisingly, the relationship between increasing
  House size and Gore’s electoral college advantage was not

    See M. G. Neubauer and J. Zeitlin, “Outcomes of Presidential Elections and House Size,”
       PS: Politics and Political Science, October 2003
     The Apportionment Clause
• Article I, Section 2, Clause 3
• Representatives [and direct Taxes] shall be apportioned
  among the several States which may be included within
  this Union, according to their respective Numbers [which
  shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of
  free Persons, including those bound to Service for a
  Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three
  fifths of all other Persons]. The actual Enumeration shall
  be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the
  Congress of the United States, and within every sub-
  sequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall
  by Law direct.
   The Apportionment Problem
• But the Constitution does not specify a mathematical
  formula by which this apportionment would be

• When Congress took up the first Apportionment Bill in
  1790, it discovered that solving this problem was not
   – The apportionment problem is a standard problem in applied
     mathematics (e.g., MATH 100).

• Two rival apportionment formulas were proposed:
   – Hamilton proposed a quota system;
   – Jefferson proposed a divisor system.
  Hamilton’s Method [Largest Remainders]
• Fix the size of the House, e.g., at 105.
• Determine each state’s proportion of the apportionment
   – For example, New York had 9.77685% of the population. Given
     a House of 105 members, NY would ideally have 9.77685% x
     105 = 10.26569 seats (NY’s quota).
• But NY and every state must have a whole number of
  House seats.
• The most obvious remedy is to round off quotas in the
  normal manner; but such rounded whole numbers may
  not add to 105.
• Hamilton’s method: round all quotas down, then allocate
  remaining seats to states according to the size of their
           Hamilton’s Method (cont.)
• Hamilton’s Method “stays in quota,”
   – i.e., it gives every state its quota rounded either up or
• But Hamilton’s method is subject to a number of
   – The Alabama Paradox: increasing the size of the
     House can reduce a state’s seats.
   – The Population Paradox: even if state A’s population
     grows faster than state B’s, A can lose seats to B in
     the later apportionment.
   – The New State Paradox: admitting a new state, even
     while expanding the size of the House so that the
     “old” states together have the same number seats as
     before, can redistribute those seats among the “old”
                      Divisor Methods
• All divisor methods award House seats sequentially to states on the
  basis of their “priority” for an additional seat.
• Initially, every state’s priority is determined by its population, so the
  first seat is awarded to the largest state.
• Thereafter, a state’s priority is determined by its population divided
  by some function of n, where n is the number of seats it has already
  been awarded.
• Different divisor methods use different functions of n.

• Alternate characterization:
   – Select a divisor approximately equal to the total population of all
      states divided by the total number of House seats, i.e., the
      average CD population.
   – Divide each state’s population by this divisor and round off the
      resulting quotient by some rule to produce an provisional
   – Different divisor methods use different rounding rules.
   – Adjust the divisor up or down until the required number of seats
      has been apportioned.
    Jefferson’s Method [Greatest Divisor]

• Fix the size of the House, e.g., at 105.
• House seats are awarded sequentially.
• The first House seat is awarded to the largest state.
• The second House seat is also awarded to the largest
  state if its population divided by 2 is greater than the
  population of the second largest state; otherwise it is
  awarded to the second largest state.
• In general, each additional seat is awarded to the state
  with the “strongest claim” to the seat, where this claim is
  determined by the population of the state divided by the
  number of seats it has already been awarded plus one,
  i.e., n+1
           Jefferson’s Method (cont.)
• With respect to the alternate characterization, Jefferson’s
  rounding rule is to round all quotients down to the
  nearest integer.
• Jefferson’s method (like other divisor methods) is not
  subject to the Alabama, Population, or New State
• But Jefferson’s method (like other divisor methods) does
  not stay in quota. In particular (for Jefferson),
   – a big state may get more than its quota rounded up, and
   – a small state may get less than its quota rounded down.
• Put otherwise, Jefferson’s Method exhibits bias (to the
  advantage of big states and disadvantage of small
              Other Divisor Methods
• John Adams advocated the divisor rule that
  rounds all quotients up to the nearest integer.
  – It is the divisor rule most favorable to small states.
• Daniel Webster advocated the divisor rule at the
  midpoint between Jefferson and Adams, i.e.,
  that rounds all quotients up or down to the
  nearest integer in the normal manner.
  – It is the divisor rule least biased toward either big or
    small states.
• The Hill-Huntington divisor method is the
  apportionment method now in effect.
  – It is slightly biased toward small states.
           Apportionment Legislation
• When it first passed the 1790 Apportionment Bill,
  Congress used the Hamilton Method.
• Washington rejected the bill (on Jefferson’s urging),
  exercising the first Presidential veto in history.
• Congress failed to override the veto and passed a new
  Apportionment Bill based on Jefferson’s method.
• Throughout the 19th Century, in each Apportionment Bill
  Congress always changed (and usually always
  increased) the House size and often changed the
  apportionment method.
• Congress discovered the Alabama Paradox while
  debating 1870 bill and never used Hamilton Method
    Apportionment Legislation (cont.)

• Congress established a “permanent” House size of 435
  in 1913.
• Congress prescribed a “permanent” apportionment
  method (the Hill-Huntington “Method of Equal
  Proportions” in the 1940 Apportionment Bill.
• Thus, since 1940, apportionment has been on
  “automatic pilot” and Congress no longer passes a new
  Apportionment Bill each decade.
   – The definitive work on this subject is by M. Balinski and H. P.
     Young, Fair Representation.
   – The authors argue that the optimal apportionment formula is the
     divisor method proposed by Daniel Webster.
   Other Variations on Election 2000
• Using the actual (Hill-Huntington) apportionment formula
  on 1990 Census
         – Bush 271               Gore 267
• Using Jefferson’s apportionment formula on 1990 Census
         – Bush 266               Gore 272
• Using Hill-Huntington on the 2000 Census
         – Bush 280               Gore 258
• Using Jefferson on the 2000 Census
         – Bush 277               Gore 261
• Under all variations above, Gore wins on the basis of
  “House” electoral votes only, because Bush has an 18
  vote advantage based on “Senate” electoral votes only.
Article I, Section 4, Clause 1
     The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators
        and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the
        legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law
        make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of
        choosing Senators.

Since 1967 (and at various earlier times as well) Congress has pre-
   scribed that the “manner” of holding elections for Representative
   shall be by Single-Member Districts (SMDs), thereby producing
   “single-winner” elections in each district.

    All states with two or more Representatives are therefore required
       to divide themselves into a number Congressional Districts
       (CDs) equal to their House seat apportionment.

    Districting is either done by the state legislature or by another body
      prescribed by state law (or by courts when legal issues arise).
                      Districting (cont.)
• In Maine and Nebraska, Presidential electors are elected by district,
  rather than statewide.
• Any state is free to adopt such a system and several other states
  (including Florida) have considered the district system.
• Under the Maine/Nebraska system, the two “Senatorial” electors are
  elected statewide, while the remaining “House” electors are elected
  from CDs (on an SMD basis).
• Thus creating CDs is relevant to Presidential selection in Maine and
  Nebraska and potentially in other states as well.
• Since 1964 Supreme Court rulings have required that CDs within
  each state have (virtually) equal populations.
• District boundaries must cut across natural and jurisdictional
  boundaries to comply with these court rulings.
• Computer technology and geographic information systems make it
  possible to readily determine the likely political effects of alternative
  districting plans.
• As a result, district boundaries have been drawn in increasing weird
Such “gerrymandering” can produce undoubtedly
            weirdly shaped districts
Closer to home

• It is commonly claimed that such “gerrymandering”
  produces districts that are safe for one or other party and
  therefore non-competitive.
• If this is true, and if CDs were used to elect Presidential
  electors, then presidential election campaigns would
  focus on a relatively few “battleground” CD.
• However, CDs are not nearly as safe for one party or the
  other as the outcomes in House elections seem to
   – House elections vs. Presidential vote by CD

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