Our Pathetic Election Process

He is absolutely correct:

Transcript here: America’s election process an international embarrassment.

The sad thing is: we, as a country, do not care. First, we have a terrible tendency to assume that whatever we do has to best (because, well, we’re us!). Second, many of us so strongly fetishize federalism that any suggestion of national standardize is rejected out of hand as some sort of ploy to take away rights (even when standardization would, in fact, enhance and guarantee rights).

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    The constitution ordains this kind of mess, unfortunately. There probably should be an amendment to the constitution, but amending the constitution when there are 50 states is a pretty tall order.

    The best step most likely is for elected officials who create this mess (*coughrickscottcough*) to be held accountable by voters.

  2. @Geek, Esq.: This is true. Of course, of the things the Framers did not foresee or understand: modern elections.

  3. stonetools says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    You mean that THE FOUNDERS weren’t prescient and all wise? Are you sure you’re an American?

  4. Craigo says:

    @Geek, Esq.: Article I does, in fact, give Congress full authority to regulate congressional elections. The trick is getting Congress to exercise it.

    Section. 4.

    The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

    It does not appear that Congress has the same authority over presidential elections, however. But two separate elections systems for federal office would be a crazier mess than we have now, and grounds for equal-protection.

  5. Geek, Esq. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would argue their greater oversight was the difficulty of amending the constitution. Jefferson et al never intended for their original understanding to be a holy writ to bind the country in perpetuity.

    An irony lost on constitutional originalists.

  6. Greg says:

    Another article you may be interested in shows the effect gerrymandering had on the current House makeup. The graphics illustrate rather clearly what an abuse of the process this is, and unfortunately it’s a bipartisan sin.

    This is also why despite wanting the electoral college to be abolished, replacing it with a district by district version which some people have suggested would be even worse as this would affect not only the House but the presidency. National Popular Vote or nothing at all.

  7. Console says:

    I tend to place a lot of blame on the media.

    Florida cutting short early voting was obviously a ploy to nullify the democratic GOTV effort. Ohio and Pennsylvania were involved in the same sort of confusing nonsense. But rather then call out obvious shenanigans, everything is “he said, she said” and then eventually devolves into a red herring about voter ID.

    In a country with such a fraught history relating to the right to vote, there should be deep suspicion of anything that makes it harder for people to vote. But the media prefers to play naive… as if there is zero incentive for elected officials to game elections.