Yes, We Have to Fix That

November 14, 2012

Election Reflections: What Happened and How To Fix It

We have a winner in the presidential election, but our nation's democracy problems persist. Politicians are still working to manipulate the voting system. Long lines, broken machines, and confusion are a clear reflection of this problem. At the same time, congressional gridlock and money in politics threaten our government. As President Obama said in his speech, “We have to fix that.” Below is a sample of our reflections on the election, replete with proposals to fix our broken systems of democracy.  


How to “Fix” the Vote – Wendy Weiser

  • Long lines were the most visible manifestation of voting problems on Election Day, but those issues run deeper. What to do? Modernize registration, invest in infrastructure, and stop the voting wars.

 Voting Machine Failures, and a Solution – Lawrence Norden

  • Long lines, often due to voting machine failures, created a mess on Election Day. Here are a few ways to improve it.

With New Senators, Fresh Chance for Filibuster Reform – Jonathan Backer

  • With new Senate reformers, we now have a real chance at changing the rules at the heart of legislative paralysis.

How Redistricting Affected the Election – Keesha Gaskins & Sundeep Iyer

  • Republican control of the House could extend well past the new Congress, thanks in part to the once-a-decade process of redistricting.

A Vote for American Ideals – Inimai Chettiar

  • This year’s election was not just about policies and politics. It was about a recommitment to our founding American ideals — inclusion and equality.

How Minnesota’s Voter ID Amendment Lost – Amanda Melillo

  • Minnesota voters defeated a ballot initiative that would have required voters to present a photo ID in order to vote.

In California, Public Education Key to Criminal Justice Reform – Meghna Philip

  • Despite scaling back California's three-strikes rule, voters approved two other overly punitive policies — a reminder that more public education is key before we can fully reform our justice system.

Read more Brennan Center blogs.


Brennan Center in the News

  • “Election Day was a window on just how rickety our voting system is,” Brennan Center President Michael Waldman told Gannett News. “If the election had been closer in many states, it would have been a catastrophe because the systems just weren’t working.”
  • In response to President Obama’s acceptance-speech ad-lib about “fixing” the long lines Americans faced at the polls, The Washington Post offered a few solutions. At the top of the list? Modernizing voter registration. “This is a very solvable problem. We have the technology to do it,” explained Wendy Weiser. Listen to Weiser discuss these solutions on NPR’s On Point.
  • “Instead of wasting resources fighting over new restrictions, we should spend time improving our elections,” wrote Lawrence Norden for The New York TimesRoom for Debate feature on “A Better Way to Vote.” Listen to Norden on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show.
  • Myrna Pérez appeared on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes to talk about voting problems and solutions, including the Voter Empowerment Act.
  • Although legal battles were averted for this election, the fight over voting rights will continue. “There’s now going to be a battle royale at the Supreme Court,” Michael Waldman told Reuters, referring to an upcoming case challenging the Voting Rights Act. Watch Waldman discuss the Voting Rights Act on MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner. Read more at ABC News.
  • Before Tuesday’s election, The New York Times explored the possibility of a recount scenario in Ohio, citing Lawrence Norden’s new issue brief, Election 2012 Recounts. Read more from the Los Angeles Times.
  • Michael Waldman talked about issues voters could have faced at the polls on PBS Newshour. He explained that while many of the laws that could have restricted access to the polls “were blocked or postponed or blunted in some way,” that there was still a possibility of “shenanigans or problems that could happen.”

To read more Brennan Center In The News, click here.

Note: The Brennan Center's voting newsletter will continue on a monthly basis. After Thanksgiving, our general bi-weekly newsletter will return as scheduled.


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