A noble purpose animates Foley’s detailed account of the historical failure of the American political system to develop and secure adequate mechanisms for the orderly resolution of disputed elections. Foley wants to use the ample evidence of history to prove that the absence of these mechanisms and institutions remains a telling indictment of the condition of American democracy. In proposing solutions for this problem, Foley is not a starry-eyed idealist. Probably the best solution we can plausibly attain, he concludes, is the establishment of “evenly balanced tribunal[s] with a neutral tiebreaker” to resolve the partisan divisions within the body politic that electoral or judicial review panels are likely to replicate (362).

To sustain this point, Foley patiently carries readers through a number of episodes, dating to the first congressional elections of 1789 and the New York gubernatorial election of 1792. Some familiar events receive especially careful treatment, notably including the...

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