Alexander Keyssar is Stirling Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is the author, most recently, of The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States. He is currently writing a history of American electoral rules and institutions. (March 2005)
On November 2, the oddities of our presidential electoral system produced another near miss. Although George W. Bush received 3.5 million more votes than did John Kerry, a shift of fewer than 60,000 votes in Ohio would have given Kerry enough votes in the electoral college to make him president.