In the days after the 2012 presidential election, the pictures became drearily familiar: long lines at polling places from Election Day; people waiting four, five, even six hours in order to vote.1 The causes? Not enough polling booths. Not enough election workers. Voting machines that did not work, or were too old. Early voting days that were off, then on, then off again. The results? Confusion. Frustration. What might have been an inspiring picture, had it been the first election in some recently democratized country, instead turned into an embarrassment. Even Russia-a famously dysfunctional polity-got into the act. In a twist, instead of the United States sending election monitors overseas, the Russians had their election monitors monitor us.2 They reported back that our election machinery was not fit for a first-world country.3 Had it happened anywhere else, we might have called the election illegitimate. Many American commentators piled on, saying that we needed to do something to fix the way we run elections.4
Chad Flanders. What is the Value of Participation? Oklahoma Law Review, v. 66, no. 53 (2013).