Discouraging Election Contests

25 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2013 Last revised: 29 Mar 2013

See all articles by Joshua A. Douglas

Joshua A. Douglas

University of Kentucky - College of Law

Date Written: January 11, 2013


This brief article offers a few proposals for discouraging losing candidates from contesting the certified result of an election. Our system encourages – or at least does not dissuade – the filing of post-election contests in close races. But election contests are often bad for our democracy, as they can harm the ideals of finality, certainty, and legitimacy of the election process – with little tangible benefit given that most election contests fail, at least at the federal and statewide level. The article suggests three possible disincentives to initiating post-election litigation: we could eliminate any possibility for a candidate to challenge the certified result, require a large monetary filing fee or the posting of a high bond, or impose a public stigma on candidates who contest an election and lose. In the end, the goal of this article is to promote a broader discussion of the propriety of post-election litigation and what we can do to curtail it.

Keywords: election, election contest, disputed election, voting, post-election litigation, law of democracy

Suggested Citation

Douglas, Joshua, Discouraging Election Contests (January 11, 2013). University of Richmond Law Review, Vol. 47, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2199631

Joshua Douglas (Contact Author)

University of Kentucky - College of Law ( email )

620 S. Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40506-0048
United States

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