Lawrence Longley, one of the foremost current experts on the Electoral College and political system in the United States, died March 20 after a long and distinguished career.Longley, a Lawrence government professor for over 35 years, was 62 years old and is survived by his wife, Judith, and his two daughters, Rebecca and Susan.
Though he authored and co-authored over 100 books and studies during his career, Longley recently gained the most widespread recognition for the accuracy of one of his predictions in his book, The Electoral College Primer 2000. In the opening chapter, entitled “The Election of 2000 is Not Quite Decided: A Fantasy,” Longley described a scenario that had remarkable similarities to the events of the 2000 election, even though it was written in 1999.
Many marveled at his ability to make such an accurate prediction. Associate Professor of Government Claudena Skran noted that Longley “predicted what had been a potential problem for years. For a political scientist, that’s a significant achievement.”
Longley achieved many significant accomplishments related to his expertise. Not only was he a member of the Electoral College board in 1988 and 1992, he served on a Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Electoral College reform and has spoken on numerous occasions with the media about the electoral system and why he felt it should be abolished.
Longley made his disdain for the electoral system clear on a number of occasions. During a PBS interview he called it a “fatally flawed institution that should be abolished.” He noted that the founders of the Electoral College system never intended for it to be used as frequently as it has been. Longley offered his advice on how presidential elections should be run by stating that “the only solution that makes any sense is a direct vote.” He felt that this method, used for all other public officials, “is the only fair and equitable way.”
During his career, Professor Longley was awarded two Fulbright lectureships. He served as the John Marshall Chair in Political Science at Budapest University of Economics from 1994-95 and the Thomas Jefferson Chair in American social studies at the Netherlands’ Nijmegen University in 2000.
Longley was born in Bronxville, N.Y. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and his master’s and Ph.D. in political science from Vanderbilt University. His 37-year career at Lawrence was perhaps the most significant accomplishment of his career, though he also served as a visiting scholar for a year at Northwestern University He was a guest lecturer in politics at Imperial College in London as well as taught in the Washington Semester Program of The American University.
Lawrence Longley * Born in Bronxville, N.Y. * Lawrence Government professor for 37 years * Wrote over 100 books and studies including The Electoral College Primer * Member of the Electoral College Board in 1988 and 1992 * Served on the Senate Judiciary Committee * Awarded with two Fulbright lectureships