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THE VOTING WARS by Richard L. Hasen


From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown

by Richard L. Hasen

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-300-18203-3
Publisher: Yale Univ.

Loyola Law School professor Hasen (The Supreme Court and Election Law, 2003, etc.) keeps us current as he catalogs the old horrors and contests and new laws involved in the U.S. election process.

Since the 2000 election, the 24-hour news cycle and computer-driven results have caused more contested elections than ever before. Especially notable are the Minnesota Senate race of 2008 and Wisconsin’s Supreme Court elections in 2011. The Wisconsin election hinged on the returns that the head election official had forgotten on her personal laptop and a local elections board official who didn’t “understand anything about computers.” Minnesota’s Coleman v. Franken took nine months to resolve, but as the author compares it to Florida in 2000, he notes that Minnesota’s superior handling was due to bipartisanship and transparency as well as the “niceness factor.” The cries of voter fraud that accompany every election rarely end in convictions, and Hasen points out that voter fraud is not worth the effort since the advent of the secret ballot. Selling votes only works with absentee ballots; the problem is that many of those ballots are never even counted. Republican demands for fraud prosecution that resulted in the firing of nine sttorneys brought attention to the partisan drive to control voting. The new voter ID laws in multiple states show just how far that control extends.

An astute but not terribly encouraging outline of the partisanship of election boards and the jockeying for power among local, state and federal officials.