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Nonpartisan Election Administration:

Lawprof Rick Hasen (Election Law) urges it, and makes a forceful case. I'm sometimes skeptical of proposals for "nonpartisan" administration, since people who are facially nonpartisan often do have partisan sentiments, and since at least in some situations having overt party affiliation helps inform voters about officials' likely attitudes and loyalties. But in the context of the administration of the election machinery, Rick's argument seems quite strong.

Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

facially nonpartisan often do have partisan sentiments


like the Election Monitor wearing the Green Party tshirt, complete with the candidates names at my polling place last Nov. 6?
11.21.2006 3:41pm
The General:
another big federal unionized bureaucracy? no thanks.
11.21.2006 4:58pm
bbeeman (mail):
Perhaps growing up watching St. Louis elections, and since then, San Francisco's annual ballot-boxes-in-the-bay circus has made me a bit of a cynic on this, but I think that this is one of those solutions that looks good, sounds good, and is absolutely wrong.

I've yet to see a non-partisan governmental operation that did not fall under the sway of whichever faction controlled the purse. We would generate a new bureaucracy, increase our fixed costs by some undetermined but significant amount, and would, I believe, accomplish little.

The best guarantee of fair elections is to have all major players have representatives involved in the process. Not another faceless, unaccountable, expensive bureaucracy.

Think about the last contact with your state's DMV, and think if this is what you want at the polls.
11.21.2006 5:54pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Hasen's proposal doesn't make it nonpartisan; it simply requires that the person chosen be acceptable to enough members of the minority party in the legislature to achieve confirmation (except in the states where one party has the governorship and so dominates the legislature that it has 75% supermajorities in both houses - MA comes to mind, and ID may be its counterpart - there may be others, but I have not bothered to check). This vote, as with any other, can be subject to legislative vote-trading.

I still like the proposal, because it will reduce the chance that a state's partisan bent will result in an embarrassing Secretary of State (CA's Kevin Shelley, who was forced to resign during his first term after it came out that he misused millions of HAVA dollars (which the federal government now wants back from CA), exchanged state grant money for campaign contributions, sexually harassed his own staff, and apparently falsified a civil service exam score to get the son of his largest contributor a job, may be the ultimate example of this).

Hasen is incorrect when he says that voting machines lost or failed to record those ballots. According to repeated reports by people interviewed by newspapers, many of them did not notice the congressional race the first time they went through the screens to vote, and only saw it on the reminder screen at the end (apparently it wasn't located near anything else and was easy to overlook). That's not a machine problem anywhere near as much as a ballot design problem. There were people (voters for both candidates) who said they voted on that race the first time around but the machine didn't record their votes, which they found out at the reminder screen, and then voted on that race. Perhaps the machines aren't sensitive enough. But with a reminder screen, there has to be some responsibility shouldered by the voters to look and see if they missed a race.

Nick
11.21.2006 6:09pm
tefta2 (mail):
Define non-partisan as it's being used in this context. In politics, it means everybody agrees to do things according the liberal agenda. Disagree and you're a partisan hack.
11.22.2006 10:38am
Colin (mail):
I often misuse the word "irony." Is it ironic that the preceding comment is partisan hackery?
11.22.2006 12:05pm