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The Law of the Electoral College

Primary Sources

Primary sources of law are the laws, orders, decisions, or regulations issued by a governmental entity or official, such as a court, legislature, or executive agency; the President; or a state governor. The major categories of primary law sources pertaining to the Electoral College, together with select resources, are provided below.

Constitution & Federal Statutory Law

The main sources of federal law regarding the Electoral College are the United States Constitution and the United States Code:

State Law

Importantly, neither the Constitution nor federal law prescribes the method of appointing electors. The administration of presidential elections is largely left up to the states. Many states provide state laws related to elections and the Electoral College on the websites for their Secretary of State or the state election department. Researchers can find links to state-level executive branch agencies using the Library of Congress Guide to Law Online for U.S. States and Territories. For a review of state laws related to the administration of election, the following resources may also be helpful:

Case Law

Case law is the body of law developed from judicial opinions or decisions over time. The process for contesting ballot counts and other issues related to the Electoral College sometimes culminates in litigation. Contested election lawsuits can take place in both state and federal courts, depending on the issue. A famous, recent example of contested ballot count litigation is Bush v. Gore, a case which started in state court but ultimately was decided by the United States Supreme Court.

For general guidance on finding case law, researchers may want to consult the following Law Library of Congress research guides:

Researchers interested in court opinions pertaining to the Electoral College may find these resources helpful for starting their research: