Election Reform in PS: Political Science and Politics

PS: Political Science and Politics, October 2007Via the handy Docuticker, “a daily update of new reports from government agencies, NGOs, think tanks, and other public interest groups,” I was alerted to the 2008 and Beyond: The Future of Election Reform in the States symposium in the October issue of PS: Political Science and Politics. The articles are brought to you free and online through the goodness of the American Political Science Association’s heart. Or, perhaps, in the eyes of the cynic, through the desperate desire for political relevance that lies deep within the APSA’s insecure heart.

An article by Bruce Cain gives advice to what he refers to as “something resembling a recognizable sub-field of political reform,” meaning the recent efforts by political science-y academics studying (and advocating) changes in campaign finance and redistricting.

Michael P. McDonald of George Mason University and the Brookings Institution writes an article summarizing “what political science and legal scholars know about redistricting institutions and criteria so that reform efforts, which sometimes seem to be predicated on intuition rather than consideration of how institutions and processes structure desired outcomes, may be better informed.”

Symposium, with links to articles in pdf format, below:


This symposium was presented in the October 2007 issue of PS: Political Science and Politics.


From symposium editor Catherine Tolbert’s introductory article: “2008 and Beyond: The Future of Election Reform in the States:”

This forum is a unique opportunity to bring social science research to bear on public policy and the practical effects of election reforms in the American states. It is also an opportunity to study America’s election system, building on the research of some of the leading scholars working in this area. The American states offer a natural laboratory (a “laboratory of democracy”), with significant variation in the rules, institutions, and procedures governing elections. This forum empirically evaluates what we have learned about the effects of various election reforms in the 50 states. The papers included in this forum were originally presented at a conference hosted by Kent State University’s department of political science and which had a title similar to that of this symposium. 1 The theme is now shared by the conference and this symposium: that the 2008 presidential election will be crucial for American democracy, especially in light of the apparently related phenomena of decreasing (or flattening) voter participation rates, low trust in government and politicalefficacy, alleged procedural irregularities in recent elections, uncompetitive congressional elections or uncontested state legislative elections,and lapses in ethical judgment by politicians in the past decade.

“The Effect of Election Administration on Voter Confidence: A Local Matter?”
Lonna Rae Atkeson,University of New Mexico
Kyle L. Saunders,Colorado State University

“Reform Studies: Political Science on the Firing Line”
Bruce E. Cain, University of California, Berkeley and University of California Washington Center

“Early Voting and Turnout”
Paul Gronke, Reed College
Eva Galanes-Rosenbaum,Reed College
Peter A. Miller,Reed College

“Poll Workers and the Vitality of Democracy: An Early Assessment”
Thad Hall,University of Utah
J. Quin Monson,Brigham Young University
Kelly D. Patterson,Brigham Young University

“Public Election Funding, Competition,and Candidate Gender”
Timothy Werner,University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kenneth R. Mayer,University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Ballot Regulations and Multiparty Politics in the States”
Barry C. Burden, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Regulating Redistricting”
Michael P. McDonald, George Mason University and Brookings Institution

“A Goal for Reform: Make Elections Worth Stealing”
Todd Donovan, Western Washington University

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