Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Heads or Tails?: A Modest Proposal for Deciding Close Elections

20 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2007 Last revised: 18 Feb 2012

Michael J. Pitts

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Date Written: December 2006

Abstract

Elections are fundamentally imperfect. For instance, machines break down and lines are long. A few elections are incredibly close, with only a few tenths of a percentage point or a couple of votes separating the candidates. A very small number of elections end in a dead-even draw. When this happens the winner is often decided by a game of chance -- a hand of poker, the drawing of lots, or the flip of a coin. In this brief, lighthearted Essay, the author develops the argument that because elections are fundamentally imperfect it makes sense to use a coin flip to decide the winners of close elections; that perhaps instead of relying on a curious alchemy of recounts and litigation to resolve close elections, we should rely on a different kind of alchemy -- the alchemy of the United States Mint.

Keywords: elections, voting, democracy, law

Suggested Citation

Pitts, Michael J., Heads or Tails?: A Modest Proposal for Deciding Close Elections (December 2006). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, p. 739, December 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=991663

Michael J. Pitts (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
60
Rank
305,350
Abstract Views
1,309