Document Type



Boston University Law Review




According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the right to vote is fundamental because it is preservative of all rights, and yet in many cases legal protections for the right to vote fall short of protections for the other rights that voting is meant to preserve. Redefining the right to vote cannot solve this problem alone. Election administration has at least as much consequence on the right to vote as any particular definition or legal theory. In Democracy’s Bureaucracy, Michael Morse draws our attention to one of the most important yet understudied issues of election administration: voter list maintenance. In addition to his descriptive account of the novel way states have cooperated to perform list maintenance, Morse’s analysis provides a window into three pathologies of America’s election administration more generally. First, the mechanics of elections directly implicate the fundamental right to vote, raising questions of how stringently these procedures should be evaluated by courts. Second, political interference in the administration of elections can flip representative government on its head by insulating elected officials from political accountability and making elections less secure. Finally, several challenges related to the administration of elections are rooted in our electoral system that narrowly links geography and political representation. Relaxing this link may foster a more effective, responsible, and inclusive system of government.