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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 provides an example of 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. Along the way, the essay offers some general observations about the challenges posed by election reform and how to solve them.
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