Monday, May 05, 2008
Shadow institutions and election reform
Heather K. Gerken
Today I published an op-ed in the Legal Times arguing that we should use what I call "shadow institutions" -- including privately created “shadow” districting commissions -- to push reform in the elections arena. Here's how I describe the problem:
Dear Professor Gerken,
On a first quick read of your post, I thought for a fleeting moment that you were suggesting that the British “shadow cabinet” was non partisan!
What we do have is a non-partisan Boundary Commission which is which revises constituencies on a periodic basis to ensure that each has a broadly comparable population and that so far as is possible it has sensible boundaries. As you may be aware – it has just published its 5th Report available on the Commission’s website: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pbc/default.asp
The system works well and we do not have the weird gerrymandered districts one sees in states like Texas.
Ultimately, our systems generally greatly depend on having (i) a judiciary which is non partisan - judges must on appointment sever all connections with party politics and (ii) professional civil and local government services which are also non-partisan.
The problem is that you cannot have a non partisan electoral administration until you have legislators who are mature enough to see the long term benefits of that. Perhaps only then do you have a truly ‘mature’ democracy, so perhaps it is premature to include the USA in that group.
Many think it takes 500 years or so to get to maturity and even if your Founding Fathers gave you a head start with the grounding in the common law and their participation in the European Enlightenment, it is early days yet.
If it is any consolation, quite a lot of our legislators behave on quite a regular basis in a pretty immature manner too!
I think this is a great idea -- a potentially sharp tool for prying the administration of elections from away from elected officials. I have one concern though: Will it be possible to find groups of credibly non-partisan individuals to serve on the proposed "shadow institutions"? Given the realities of the present hyperpartisan system, it seems that pretty much everyone who is expert in election law is affiliated with one party or the other. There appear to be precious few non-partisan enclaves in the election law and administration world. As such, wouldn't any shadow institution's neutrality quickly be impugned? Or, maybe I am too pessimistic -- perhaps there remain pockets of non-partisan professionalism among U.S. election lawyers, administrators, election reform groups, and election law scholars.
In any case, the obvious alternative to strict non-partisanship would be strict bipartisanship, and that doesn't seem like a very good idea at all. The big worry with a bipartisan shadow institution is that it would reproduce the partisan debates we already have, and end up recommending that the electoral spoils simply be divided equally among the two parties. So it seems that an attempt at non-partisanship is the better alternative.
A more ambitious (farfetched?) idea might be to establish shadow institutions stocked with ordinary citizens invited to participate at random. In Canada, "citizens' assemblies" have recently become the standard way to vet and propose major changes to the electoral system. Though in the Canadian case, these assemblies are not private institutions, but are established by the legislatures themselves. See, e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Assembly_on_Electoral_Reform_%28British_Columbia%29 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Assembly_on_Electoral_Reform_%28Ontario%29
Many thanks for your comments. As to "Mourad," I was thinking of the decidedly partisan British "shadow cabinets" only as a rough cognate to my proposal. I agree that it will be a while before nonpartisan election administration becomes a reality in the United States. As to "Jonathan," I'm posting today on precisely these questions -- how to create them, the problems with bipartisan commissions, etc. Although I won't discuss citizen commissions, on this blog and elsewhere I've repeatedly talked about the useful role they might serve in election reform. Thanks to both of you for the very helpful comments.
HD kaliteli porno izle ve boşal.Post a Comment
Bayan porno izleme sitesi.
Bedava ve ücretsiz porno izle size gelsin.
Liseli kızların Bedava Porno ve Türbanlı ateşli hatunların sikiş filmlerini izle.
Siyah karanlık odada porno yapan evli çift.
harika Duvar Kağıtları bunlar
tamamen ithal duvar kağıdı olanlar var
2013 Beyaz Eşya modeller
Sizlere Güvenlik Sistemleri ayarliyoruz
Arayin Hırdavat bulun
Samsung Nokia İphone Cep telefonu alin.
Super Led Tv keyfi