To Here From Theory In Election Law

25 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2016

Date Written: 2009


Book Review

THE DEMOCRACY INDEX: WHY OUR ELECTION SYSTEM IS FAILING AND How TO FIX IT. By Heather K. Gerken. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2009. 192 pages.

The Democracy Index is a thoughtful, creative advance in the discrete area of election administration that embodies converging themes in the field of election law as a whole. What is more, unlike so many academic proposals, the Democracy Index itself is already getting from here to somewhere as a policy proposal. It has already been the centerpiece of a 2007 conference, titled "Implementing the Democracy Index," sponsored by the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project, the Pew Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation. It was introduced last year in Congress by then-Senator Clinton, and also by then-Senator and now-President Obama. President Obama, himself a former teacher of election law at the University of Chicago Law School, may be prepared to move forward with further legislation in the same direction. Obama's presidential campaign counsel, Bob Bauer, noted immediately following the election that the "serious work be done" in election law includes devising "measures of actual performance on lines, staffing, supplies, machine readiness, and operation, etc., such as would be provided by a Democracy Index." Beyond its academic impact on election-law scholarship, The Democracy Index may be a rare example of the best hopes of scholarship, transcending theory into practice as a meaningful political reform where it is badly needed.

Suggested Citation

Kang, Michael S., To Here From Theory In Election Law (2009). Texas Law Review, Vol. 87, No. 787, 2009, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-414, Available at SSRN:

Michael S. Kang (Contact Author)

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law ( email )

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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