The Conscientious Congressman's Guide to the Electoral Count Act of 1887

Stephen A. Siegel

DePaul University - College of Law

July 2004

Florida Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 3, p. 541, 2004

Electoral vote counting is the oldest activity of the national government and among the oldest questions of constitutional law. Yet, it is one of the least understood aspects of our constitutional order.

The Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs Congress's electoral vote counting process, lies at the heart of this confusion. During the 2000 presidential election dispute, for example, politicians, lawyers, commentators, and Supreme Court justices seemed prone to misstate or misinterpret the provisions of the law, even those that were clear to the generation that wrote it.

The purpose of this Article is to explain the provisions of the Electoral Count Act of 1887 as it was understood by the Congresses that debated and enacted it. This article explicates the Electoral Count Act through a comprehensive exploration of its legislative history, the history and theory of electoral vote counting, and the legal and political assumptions of the Congresses that framed it. This Article also develops its understanding of the ECA by analyzing the interplay between the Act's various substantive sections and between the its substantive and procedural provisions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 84

Keywords: constitutional law, elections, electoral votes, presidential elections, Bush v. Gore, Electoral Count Act

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Date posted: September 11, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Siegel, Stephen A., The Conscientious Congressman's Guide to the Electoral Count Act of 1887 (July 2004). Florida Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 3, p. 541, 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1265227

Contact Information

Stephen A. Siegel (Contact Author)
DePaul University - College of Law ( email )
25 East Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604-2287
United States
312-362-8144 (Phone)
312-362-5448 (Fax)

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