Hope and Experience: Election Reform through the Lens of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project

We launched the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project (ERP) in June 2005 with the encouragement and financial support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Five years later we bring the project to a close. We take this opportunity to reflect on the state of election administration in the United States almost a decade after the extended and controversial Florida vote count in the 2000 presidential election and suggest how additional changes in technology, election law and administrative practices might further strengthen American elections in the years ahead.

The Context

As a consequence of the Florida debacle, most Americans, ourselves included, discovered how little we knew about the myriad ways in which our system of casting and counting votes threatened a bedrock of democracy, namely that those who have a right to vote are able to do so, and have their votes counted accurately. Our uniquely American election administration system--highly decentralized, lacking uniformity within and across states, and predominantly overseen by partisan officials--proved especially vulnerable in the dead-heat Florida contest, where the ultimate outcome determined the next occupant of the White House. One of the most controversial aspects of the disputed Florida vote count was the apparent disparate impact on racial, age, and partisan groups of the mechanics of registration and voting. Wide variation across the states in voting equipment, ballot design, accuracy of registration lists, number and training of poll workers, lines at polling places, the availability of provisional ballots, the treatment of absentee ballots, and procedures for counting and recounting ballots advantaged some groups at the expense of others.

The full text is available as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

John C. Fortier is a research fellow at AEI. Norman J. Ornstein is a resident scholar at AEI. Thomas Mann is a senior fellow at The Brookings Insitution.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Norman J.
Ornstein

 

John C.
Fortier

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.