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The Failure of Federal Electoral Oversight and the Emergence of a State Administrative Paradigm of Voter Restriction

The Failure of Federal Electoral Oversight and the Emergence of a State Administrative Paradigm of Voter Restriction

Chapter:
(p.83) Chapter Four The Failure of Federal Electoral Oversight and the Emergence of a State Administrative Paradigm of Voter Restriction
Source:
Conservative Innovators
Author(s):
Ben Merriman
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226620459.003.0004

This chapter examines contemporary policy changes that have made it more difficult to register to vote or cast a ballot. Modern voter restriction arises from an administrative asymmetry. Federal voting rights protections are new and to a great degree judge-made, with little associated investigative or enforcement power. State electoral administrative capacity, by contrast, has grown markedly since the 2000 general election. The centralization of elections administration at the state level has enabled the development of a variety of regulations and administrative practices that make voting more difficult, typically by imposing administrative burdens for individual voters. Such policies have predictably larger effects on poorer voters, older voters, and voters from racial and ethnic minority groups. Yet these policies routinely withstand judicial scrutiny because they are uniformly administered and defended as means of promoting electoral integrity. Through a detailed study of the Crosscheck program, a large multistate record-sharing agreement administered in Kansas, this chapter shows the current legal blind spots and administrative asymmetries effectively authorize practices that may restrict voting without running afoul of voting rights protections. Crosscheck also shows how seemingly trivial policies, in combination, may interact in ways that focus administrative burdens on very specific groups of voters.

Keywords:   election law, voting rights, voter restriction, voter identification, voter registration, conservatism, Crosscheck, administrative burden

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