Skip to main content

A Goal for Reform: Make Elections Worth Stealing

  • Todd Donovan (a1)

Election reforms have attracted substantial attention since the troubled elections of 2000. Some address problems in the administration of elections. Others aim to regulate the conduct of elected officials and lobbyists. A third category affects the structure by which elections are conducted. It is not clear whether the same over-arching problem motivates interest in these reforms. One common theme may be that public confidence in representation suffers as a result of actual or perceived deficiencies in the conduct of elections and elected officials. The failure to count votes accurately, the fact that eligible voters find they are unable to vote, the inability of minor parties to access ballots, revelations of scandalous relations between representatives and lobbyists, the power of wealthy donors, the lack of “civility” in political discourse, the uncompetitive nature of many elections, may all somehow act together to erode public trust, and reduce participation and engagement with representative democracy.

Hide All


Amy, Douglas. 2002. Real Choices/New Voices: How Proportional Representation Elections Could Revitalize American Politics. New York: Columbia University Press.
Anderson, Christopher J., and Christine Guillory. 1997. “Political, Institutions and Satisfaction with Democracy.” American Political Science Review 91 (February): 6681.
Ansolabehere, Steven, James M. Snyder, and Charles Stewart III 2001. “Candidate Positioning in US House Races.” American Journal of Political Science 45 (1): 13659.
Bartels, Larry. 2002. “Partisanship and Voting Behavior: 1952–1996.” American Journal of Political Science 44 (1): 3550.
Black, Earl, and Merle Black. 2003. The Rise of Southern Republicans. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Blais, André, and Kenneth Carty. 1990. “Does Proportional Representation Foster Voter Turnout?European Journal of Political Research 18 (2): 16781.
Bowler, Shaun, Todd Donovan, and David Brockington. 2004. Election Reform and Minority Representation. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
Bowler, Shaun, and Todd Donovan. n.d.Barriers to Participation for Whom? Regulations on Voting and Uncompetitive Elections.” In Mobilizing Democracy, eds. Margaret Levi, Jim Johnson, Jack Knight, and Susan Stokes. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. In review.
Bowler, Shaun, Todd Donovan, Jeffrey Karp, and David Lanoue. 2006. “Independent's Day: Critical Citizens among the US Voting Public.” Manuscript.
Burden, Barry C. 2004. “Candidate Positioning in US Congressional Elections.” British Journal of Political Science 34: 21127.
Burden, Barry C. 2007. “Ballot Regulations and Multiparty Politics in the States.” PS: Political Science and Politics 40 (October): 66973.
Campbell, Angus, Philip Converse, Warren Miller, and Donald Stokes. 1960. The American Voter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Clinton, Joshua D., Simon Jackman, and Doug Rivers. 2004. “The Most Liberal Senator? Analyzing and Interpreting Congressional Roll Calls.” PS: Political Science and Politics. 37 (October): 80511.
Cox, Gary, and Jonathan Katz. 2002. Elbridge Gerry's Salamander: The Electoral Consequences of the Reapportionment Revolution. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Cox, Gary, and M. C. Munger. 1989. “Closeness, Expenditures and Turnout in the 1982 US House Elections.” American Political Science Review 83 (1): 21731.
Donovan, Todd, Janine Parry, and Shaun Bowler. 2005. “O Other, Where Art Thou? Support for Multi-Party Politics in the United States.” Social Science Quarterly 86 (1): 14759.
Donovan, Todd, and Caroline Tolbert. 2007. “State Electoral Context and Voter Participation: Who is Mobilized by What?Presented at the State Politics and Policy Conference, Austin, TX.
Donovan, Todd, and Shaun Bowler. 2004. Reforming the Republic: Democratic Institutions for the New America. Boston: Prentice Hall.
Ferejohn, John. 1977. “On the Decline of Competition in Congressional Elections.” American Political Science Review 71: 16676.
Fiorina, Morris, Samuel J. Adams, and Jeremy C. Pope. 2005. Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America. New York: Pearson Longman.
Fiorina, Morris. 1980. “The Decline of Collective Responsibility in American Politics.” Daedalus 109 (summer): 2545.
Fiorina, Morris. 1973. “Electoral Margin, Constituency Influence and Policy Moderation: A Critical Assessment.” American Politics Quarterly 1: 47998.
Gronke, Paul, Eva Galanes-Rosenbaum, and Peter A. Miller. 2007. “Early Voting and Turnout.” PS: Political Science and Politics 40 (October): 63945.
Groseclose, Tim, Steven Levitt, and James M. Snyder. 1999. “Comparing Interest Group Scores across Time and Chambers: Adjusted ADA Scores for the US Congress.” American Political Science Review 93 (1): 3350.
Hetherington, Marc. 2001. “Resurgent Mass Partisanship: The Role of Elite Polarization.” American Political Science Review 95 (3): 61931.
Hibbing, John, and Elisabeth Theiss-Morse. 2002. Stealth Democracy: Americans' Beliefs About How Government Should Work. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Issacharoff, Samuel, and Jonathan Nagler. 2006. “Protected From Politics: Diminishing Margins of Electoral Competition in U.S. Congressional Elections.” Manuscript.
Jacobson, Gary. 2005. “The Structural Basis of Republican Success.” In The 2004 Election, ed. M. Nelson. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Keith, Bruce, David Magleby, Candice Nelson, Elizabeth Orr, Mark Westlye, and Raymond Wolfinger. 1992. The Myth of the Independent Voter. Berkeley: University of California Press.
King, David. 1997. “The Polarization of American Parties and Mistrust of Government.” In Why People Don't Trust Government, eds. Joseph Nye, Jr., P. Zelikow, and D. King. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Layman, Geoffrey C., and Thomas Carsey. 2002. “Partisan Polarization and Conflict Extension in the American Electorate.” American Journal of Political Science 46 (4): 786802.
Mayhew, David. 1974. “Congressional Elections: The Case of the Vanishing Marginals.” Polity 6 (3): 295317.
McCarty, Nolan, Keith T. Poole, and Howard Rosenthal. 2006. Polarized American: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches. Cambridge: MIT Press.
McDonald, Michael P. 2007. “Regulating Redistricting.” PS: Political Science and Politics 40 (October): 6759.
Polsby, Nelson. 1983. The Consequences of Party Reform. New York: Oxford University Press.
Poole, Keith T., and Howard Rosenthal. 1997. Congress: A Political-Economic History of Roll Call Voting. New York: Oxford University Press.
Rhode, David W. 1991. Parties and Leaders in the Post Reform House. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sinclair, Barbara. 2006. Party Wars: Polarization and the Politics of National Policymaking. Norman: Oklahoma State University Press.
Smith, Daniel, and Caroline Tolbert. 2004. Educated by Initiative. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Sullivan, John L., and Eric M. Uslaner. 1978. “Congressional Behavior and Electoral Marginality. American Journal of Political Science 22: 53653.
Wattenberg, Martin. 1991. The Rise of Candidate-Centered Politics: Presidential Elections of the 1980s. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Wattenberg, Martin. 1998. The Decline of American Political Parties: 1952–1996. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Werner, Timothy, and Kenneth R. Mayer. 2007. “Public Election Funding, Competition, and Candidate Gender.” PS: Political Science and Politics 40 (October): 6617.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 13 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 85 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.