Why American Elections Are Flawed (And How to Fix Them)
Publication Year: 2017
The flaws in the American electoral process have become increasingly apparent in recent years. The contemporary tipping point in public awareness occurred during the 2000 election count, and concern deepened due to several major problems observed in the 2016 campaign, worsening party polarization, and corroding public trust in the legitimacy of the outcome.
To gather evidence about the quality of elections around the world, in 2012 the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) was established as an independent research project based at Harvard and Sydney universities. The results show that experts rated American elections as the worst among all Western democracies. Without reform, these problems risk damaging the legitimacy of American elections—further weakening public confidence in political parties, Congress, and the U.S. government, depressing voter turnout, and exacerbating the risks of mass protests.
Why American Elections Are Flawed describes several major challenges observed during the 2016 U.S. elections arising from deepening party polarization over basic voting procedures, the serious risks of hacking and weak cyber-security, the consequences of deregulating campaign spending, and lack of professional and impartial electoral management. Pippa Norris outlines the core concept and measure of electoral integrity, the key yardstick used to evaluate free and fair elections. Evidence from expert and mass surveys demonstrate the extent of problems in American elections. She shows how these challenges could be addressed through several practical steps designed to improve electoral procedures and practices. If implemented, the reforms will advance free and fair elections, and liberal democracy, at home and abroad.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Like Humpty Dumpty, trust in American elections can be easily damaged, but it is far more difficult to rebuild. The 2016 US presidential elections have highlighted pervasive problems in how American elections work. Secretary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battled through exceptionally brutal primary and general election campaigns that have polarized opinions and generated allegations of fraud, ...
I: Challenges of Electoral Integrity during the 2016 US Elections
The challenges to electoral integrity highlighted by the 2016 US elections are far from new.1 Several events during the campaign have highlighted long-standing vulnerabilities. Without a comprehensive program of reforms addressing these problems, in a close, heated, and bitterly fought election, ...
II: Measuring Electoral Integrity
All these problems suggest that the integrity of American elections is problematic. But much of the debate on this issue remains controversial. The issue of what is to blame for any lack of public trust, whether arising from the risks of insecurity at the ballot or the suppression of voters’ rights, remains mired in partisan dispute. ...
III: Comparing Electoral Integrity within and across States
What does this evidence suggest about the relative performance of US elections when compared with recent elections held in countries worldwide, as well as with similar post-industrial states and Western democracies? ...
IV: What Is to Be Done?
By all these indicators, therefore, the evidence points to a range of enduring problems in American elections. Most attempts to strengthen US elections involve piecemeal reforms, often worthwhile but technical in nature.1 These are equivalent to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. ...
V: Conclusions and Recommendations
In conclusion, considerable evidence suggests that problems in the American electoral process have worsened, and piecemeal reforms won’t be enough to compensate for growing party polarization and declining public confidence, both of which have risen since 2000. Events during the 2016 campaign have deepened the fractures in public trust. ...
The study is drawn from the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), an independent research project focused on why elections fail and what can be done about it. All details are at www.electoralintegrityproject.com. The EIP project is based at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government ...
About the Author
Page Count: 58
Publication Year: 2017
OCLC Number: 966410512
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