Focusing on the effects of singular technical elements, electoral system research has neglected the question of whether specific systems are supposed to achieve overarching normative goals. Due to their importance for any polity, such principles of representation are widely assumed to be determined in the constitution. Therefore, a world-wide survey of constitutions presents a promising ... [Show full abstract] opportunity to study electoral systems’ general goals in a comparative manner. In providing such a survey and investigating the causes, contents and consequences of constitutional provisions, this analysis shows that constitutional embeddedness of the electoral system is contingent upon factors such as region (with constitutional principles especially typical in Europe and Latin America) and decision-context. Importantly, the ‘proportionality principle’ is much more prone to enter a constitution and receive increased protection than its antipode, the ‘majority principle’. Furthermore, mixed principles calling for a balance between aforementioned extremes exist, suggesting that mixed electoral systems are not always merely technical compromises. Finally, constitutional embeddedness seems to have a context-dependent effect on specific technical elements but generally leads to greater stability of the overall electoral system. The key implication for future research is that the normative principle-dimension of electoral systems has to be considered alongside their technical design.