’s new book, Representation and the Electoral College
(Oxford University Press, 2019) is an important analysis of the Electoral College, from the debates about it at the constitutional convention and during the early days of the republic to contemporary controversies that surround this unique construction. Alexander frames the book with the theoretical conundrum of representation, unpacking different kinds of representation and how these competing interpretations of representation have contributed to the ways in which voters, parties, candidates, and electors approach the Electoral College and understand its function within the American constitutional system. By tracing the historical arguments for the Electoral College and the ways in which the electors themselves are chosen and are supposed to act, Alexander pays attention to the ways that the Electoral College has evolved over the course of more than 200 years. This book excellently explains the original competing demands that led to the creation of the Electoral College, and goes on to analyze how it has functioned in context of the rise of political parties, shifting ideological preferences, and geographic and national pressures. Alexander’s earlier research on the electors themselves helps inform the analysis here, integrating the perspectives of individuals who serve a constitutional function but are rarely surveyed or studied within that context. This book brings together historical, constitutional, theoretical, and contemporary perspectives in analyzing and exploring the Electoral College. It is also a very well-written book, making it accessible to a wide range of readers.
Lilly J. Goren is professor of Political Science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She co-edited the award-winning Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics
(University Press of Kentucky, 2012).