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The Invisible Election: Making Policy in World Without Data, Dean’s Lecture Series, 35 Ohio Northern L. Rev.1013 (2009)


Election policy gets made in a world without data. Recently I've proposed a solution to that problem - creating a Democracy Index, which would rank states and localities based on how well their election systems are run. Imagine a U.S. News and World report for the election system that would rank jurisdictions based on basic questions that matter to voters: How long did you stand in line? How many ballots got discarded? How many machines broke down? This idea - one that was put into legislation by then Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton - is the first and most useful step we could take to improving our badly administered election system.

Elsewhere, I have described why a Democracy Index should help get change passed. Here, I want to focus on a different question: how to figure out what kind of change we want. Part II describes the problems associated with policymaking in a world without data. Part III explains why a Democracy Index, by pulling together the right data in the right form, would provide a much-needed corrective to ongoing debates about election policy.

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