Shortcuts to Reform
Yale University - Law School
Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 93, p. 1582, 2009
Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 219
Scholars are quite aware of how hard it is to get election reform passed in the United States. I call it the "here to there" problem. We have a firm sense of what's wrong with our election system (the "here") and how to fix it (the "there"). But getting from "here to there" has been remarkably difficult in the elections context. This essay is loosely organized around the idea that shortcuts can play a useful role in promoting election reform. Shortcuts are a well known phenomenon in elections scholarship. The best known example is the party label, which provides voters an important heuristic for casting their vote. This paper focuses on what shortcuts can do to promote reform. It argues that shortcuts can and do play an important role in influencing three of the main leverage points for reform: voters, policymakers, and bureaucrats. The essay focuses on one such shortcut - a Democracy Index, which would rank states and localities based on how well their election systems perform - and explains why it ought to help create an environment more receptive to reform. It also talks about several others, including a Model Election Code and model districting commissions. While these reforms might seem quite modest compared to typical reform proposals, they are the kind of modest reforms that can make bigger and better reform possible. Shortcuts like these beat out most other reform proposals for a simple reason: they should help makes those alternatives possible.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Shortcuts, Heuristics, Election Reform, Election Administration, Democracy Index, Redistricting Reform, Redistricting, Model Election CodeAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: June 3, 2010
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