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Dr. Rob Alexander is proving why ONU is the authority on the Electoral College.
Usually when Dr. Robert Alexander’s name appears online it’s either followed by his Ohio Northern University title of professor of political science, or his Twitter handle, @onuprof.
And then there are the other times, like when “Special for CNN” follows his name.
On Monday, Oct. 22, during the most frenzied period of presidential election coverage, CNN.com published Alexander’s op-ed about the Electoral College, “Rogue electors threaten elections’ integrity.” The piece explains how individual members of the Electoral College, the body that actually elects the president of the United States into office, may abandon their party allegiance and cast a rogue vote, potentially changing the election.
Alexander writes, “The 2012 election will probably be very close. Consequently, in the worst of scenarios, a ‘faithless’ vote might not only disenfranchise voters, but alter the outcome of the race. While unlikely, this begs the question: Why do presidential electors still have independence in our current presidential selection process?”
It is an interesting question and one that Alexander has pondered since 2003, when he worked with his students on a research project to examine the role of the Electoral College in American politics. He and his students earned a grant from Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society, to conduct their research.
“Working on this project has been a real labor of love,” says Alexander. “What began as a simple project to ‘put a face’ on the mysterious figures we cast our presidential and vice-presidential ballots for has turned into so much more.”
Over the years, the research has yielded peer-reviewed publications, conference papers, international media coverage and, ultimately, a book on presidential electors that was published this summer. Most importantly, it has provided opportunities for students to engage in the type of academic research that is usually reserved for Ph.D. programs.
Alexander’s current students will continue the research after this November’s election as they conduct a fourth survey of presidential electors.
“Thinking about the different cohorts of students who have helped along the way brings a smile to my face,” says Alexander. “I can recall talking to that first cohort and explaining to them that there was absolutely no reason ONU couldn’t be the place to go to for all there is to know about presidential electors. Ten years later, that is exactly what has occurred.”