“I think this crisis really owes itself to the character of the person in the Oval Office, not to our electoral system, even though that system could surely be improved,” says Alan Hirsch ’81 in a recent interview with Andrew Keen for the Keen On podcast. Hirsch is a professor at Williams College and author of the 2020 book A Short History of Presidential Election Crises.
“An election crisis is one where after the voting is done, we don’t know who won,” Hirsch continues. “But now we know who won. That’s not really up for dispute. But we have a president who refuses to acknowledge that reality and possibly is willing to go to great lengths to try to impose his own reality, and that’s the crisis, if there is one.”
The interview delves into several major election crises in U.S. history, including those in the 1800 presidential race between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr and the 2000 race between George H.W. Bush and Al Gore. Keen and Hirsch also discuss possibilities for abolishing or reforming the Electoral College, a system that Hirsch believes makes elections especially vulnerable to crises.