It is not obvious that the memoir of a recently-retired, sixteen-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives is a promising candidate for a book review on government reform. Vivid narrative, compelling personal stories, passionate advocacy, and lacerating wit may make for a great read. And Barney Frank’s Frank: A … More >
I read with interest a recent opinion piece for WIRED magazine titled “America’s polling places desperately need a redesign.” In it, author Ted Selker — an inventor, design consultant and member of the Accessible Voting Team at UC Berkeley — describes the physical limitations of many polling places across the … More >
It’s election season in California, which means that the state’s 58 county Registrar of Voters offices are buzzing with activities – everything from designing, printing and mailing ballots to finalizing voter-registration rolls and ordering precinct supplies. Each task that staff in these offices perform factors into an election’s success, and … More >
Americans seem to love democracy but hate many of the results. We want governmental power to be decentralized, whether it’s across three federal branches or with local control over sometimes regionally oriented land use decisions. But when the inevitable compromise that is required to get majority approval means a less-than-perfect … More >
In the short run, limiting the filibuster will strengthen the hands of environmental regulators. What about the long run effects?
The filibuster arguably served a useful function when it allowed the minority to block action in extraordinary cases where its views were especially intense. It became no longer tolerable when it … More >
How do we know whether the reported winners of an election really won?
There’s no perfect way to count votes. To paraphrase Ulysses S. Grant and Richard M. Nixon, “Mistakes will be made.” Voters don’t always follow instructions. Voting systems can be mis-programmed, as they were last year in Palm Beach, … More >
There are two great centers of unaccountable power in the American political-economic system today — places where decisions that significantly affect large numbers of Americans are made in secret, and are unchecked either by effective democratic oversight or by market competition.
One goes by the name of the “intelligence community” and … More >