Robert J. Pekkanen
Content varies from quarter to quarter.
How you count determines who wins. The importance of electoral systems is as inescapable and pervasive as the drumbeat of the ongoing Presidential primary. This course offers a comparative analysis of electoral systems. Electoral rules are critically important in politics; these rules translate votes into seats and thus determine who wins elections--and different ways of counting lead to different political results. An obvious recent example is the 2000 US presidential election, where one candidate won a majority of the popular vote but lost the election because of the peculiar electoral system (the electoral college). Redistricting and gerrymandering are perennial topics in the US, too. But, outside of the United States, electoral systems vary widely and this dramatically affects the politics of those countries. An important part of this course will be studying how electoral systems affect party systems, candidate selection, party organization, (gender, ethnic, and other types of) representation, and policy outcomes. We will also learn the mechanics of the various voting systems, from nominal systems (such as the single member district system we use in the US) to proportional representation systems, with assorted twists (open vs. closed party list) and eccentric systems (SNTV, STV) throw in for good measure. Students will leave the course with a solid understanding of what electoral systems are and how vitally important they are for politics.
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