Research / BFI Working PaperJul 10, 2023

Electoral College and Election Fraud

Georgy Egorov, Konstantin Sonin

One frequently overlooked aspect of the U.S.-style electoral college system is that it discourages election fraud. In a presidential election based on the popular vote, competing political parties are motivated to manipulate votes in areas where they hold the most significant influence, such as states where they control local executive offices, legislatures, and the judiciary. However, with the electoral college system in place, the incentives for fraud shift to swing states where the local government is politically divided, and fraud is therefore more difficult and costly. Our theoretical model elucidates why the electoral college system provides more effective protection against election fraud compared to the popular vote system. While polarization makes fraud more likely, it does not affect the superiority of the electoral college system.

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