Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Anthony Gierzynski's "Saving American Elections"

Anthony Gierzynski (Jack) is a professor of political science at the University of Vermont and the Director of the James M. Jeffords Center's Vermont Legislative Research Service. His books include Harry Potter and the Millennials: Research Methods and the Politics of the Muggle Generation (2013), Money Rules: Financing Elections in America (2000), and Legislative Party Campaign Committees in the American States (1992), as well as a number of articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Gierzynski applied the “Page 99 Test” to his 2010 book, Saving American Elections: A Diagnosis and Prescription for a Healthier Democracy, and reported the following:
On page 99 the reader will find himself/herself in the “causes” section of the diagnosis of what ails American elections. The diagnosis is the core of the book. Reformers have been prescribing medicine for elections for decades, but unlike medical doctors, none of those remedies have been prescribed in the context of a full diagnosis of the patient. The purpose of the book is to address this shortcoming by working up a full diagnosis (using the extant research and data on elections) and then showing how we can use the diagnosis to examine prescriptions for improving the health of US elections. The diagnosis is broken down into symptoms (low voter turnout, a cynical and poorly informed public), the illness (uncompetitive elections, political inequality, an overwhelmed electorate, and failing supportive institutions), and the causes of the illness (privately owned news media, the behavior of politicians, habits of the electorate, electoral structure, and electoral law and administration). The specific “cause” that is discussed on pg. 99 is electoral administration in the US which results in lost votes, voter confusion, and voter disenfranchisement.

After the diagnosis is complete each subsequent chapter examines electoral prescriptions in light of the diagnosed problems with the media, the electoral structure, political parties and politicians, electoral law and administration, and the public, asking of each reform whether it addresses the problems identified in the diagnosis and what research tells us about the likelihood of the treatment succeeding.
Learn more about Saving American Elections at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Harry Potter and the Millennials.

--Marshal Zeringue