PS 601 Election Reform in America

Election rules and administration is one area of public policy where ideas for reform are everywhere. From the campaign finance regulations to legislative districting to voteridentification, there is no shortage of proposals for improvement. Whether it be politicians, administrators, journalists, scholars, or the public, everyone seems to have opinions about what is wrong with elections and how to fix them. But the motivations for these reforms are varied and their consequences are often unknown. It is not always clear what problem a particular proposal is supposed to cure or what side effects it might have. Often the discussion devolves into a debate between liberals favoring greater accommodations for voters and conservatives favoring tighter security. We can do better. Altering something as important as the election process demands careful scrutiny of empirical evidence and weighing against various normative and legal concernsThis seminar immerses students in debates about election reforms and provides tools for evaluating the claims made by advocates on each side.