Sunday, July 17, 2005

Reforms designed to reduce socioeconomic bias do the opposite :: WaPo

Unintended consequences wins, again.

Were Republicans merely playing Brer Rabbit's routine (from the Uncle Remus Tales) of please-don't-throw-me-in-that-briar-patch-Brer-Fox?

Quoting in full:
So have three decades of electoral reforms had any effect on the proportion of less advantaged Americans who vote on Election Day?

Yes -- but not in the way that the advocates of reform envisioned, says political scientist Adam J. Berinsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writing in the latest issue of American Politics Research.

Instead of luring the young, the poor and those with less interest in politics to the ballot box, new initiatives such as Oregon's vote-by-mail law have provoked greater participation from older, wealthier and white voters.

In a classic case of unintended consequences, Berinsky's review (pdf) of all major election-law changes of the past three decades found that "reforms designed to make it easier for registered voters to cast their ballots actually increase, rather than reduce, socioeconomic biases in the composition of the voting public."
The true barrier to voting is yourself.

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