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State bloc versus individual delegate voting at the constitutional convention: Did it make a difference?


  • Paul D. Carlsen

    () (Louisiana Economic Development, LED FastStart, 445 North Boulevard, Suite 210, Baton Rouge, LA, 70802, USA)

  • Jac C. Heckelman

    () (Wake Forest University, Department of Economics, 205 Kirby Hall, Winston-Salem, NC, 27127, USA)


Voting at the 1787 Constitutional Convention followed the procedure of requiring state votes to be determined by the majority vote of each state's present delegates, and the outcome of the vote to be decided by majority vote of the states. In establishing the new legislature, the adopted Constitution set rules such that a simple majority of all present representatives would determine the outcome of each legislative vote. We investigate how Convention vote outcomes might have changed if this voting rule was in place for the Convention. Using spatial models on 398 separate roll calls, we identify which vote outcomes would have differed under individual delegate voting. Analysis suggests only 16 of the vote outcomes would have changed but those that were predicted to change included considering unequal representation in the Senate (i.e., similar to representation in the House) and requiring two-thirds (rather than three-fourths) of states to ratify constitutional amendments.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul D. Carlsen & Jac C. Heckelman, 2016. "State bloc versus individual delegate voting at the constitutional convention: Did it make a difference?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 781-800, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:82:3:y:2016:p:781-800
    DOI: 10.1002/soej.12027

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    Cited by:

    1. Jac C. Heckelman & Nicholas R. Miller (ed.), 2015. "Handbook of Social Choice and Voting," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15584.
    2. Marek M. Kaminski, 2015. "Empirical examples of voting paradoxes," Chapters, in: Jac C. Heckelman & Nicholas R. Miller (ed.), Handbook of Social Choice and Voting, chapter 20, pages 367-387, Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • N41 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913


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