A Look Back on Contested Senate Elections


The U.S. Senate Historical Office just released a history of disputed elections that were reviewed by the Senate. This comprehensive web resource contains information on 55 contested elections, and may have salience in light of the ongoing Coleman-Franken dispute.

For each contested election, the site summarizes the historical background that led to the dispute, the specific issue(s)  before the Senate, how it acted, and what ultimately happened to the contestants. Of particular interest is that the site contains contemporaneous committee reports that explore the dispute in great detail.

In addition, the web site provides background information on election laws, a primer on Senate procedures in contested elections, an exploration of the types of election disputes, and a review of how the Senate has responded when vacancies occur.

It explains that election disputes reviewed by the Senate fall into several categories.

During the sectional conflicts prior to the Civil War, and in the war’s aftermath as former Confederate states rejoined the Union, questions arose regarding the state legislatures’ legal authority to elect. Later in the 19th century and into the early 20th century, corrupt use of money in elections became an issue. Since 1913, campaign expenditures, demands for recounts in close elections, and complaints of election irregularities or fraud have constituted the dominant issues.

More like this, please.