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Race To The Top, For Turnout

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011


Our co-founder Norman J. Ornstein, pictured above at our 2012 kickoff, presents an interesting idea on the New York Times Campaign Stops blog today. Norm suggests a “Race To The Top” for voter turnout, with electoral votes on the line.

Race To The Top is the Obama education policy that rewards funding based on states hitting “education innovation” benchmarks. If we can do it for test scores, Norm wonders, why not for voting?

The 10 states that end up with the lowest turnout rates compared to the overall national turnout (based on percentage of all voters in the state, not percentage of registered voters) each lose one or two electoral votes, and the 10 states that have the highest turnout rates get a bonus electoral vote or two.

The determination and allocation could be done either by the Election Assistance Commission, the Census Bureau or by a new nonpartisan panel of experts. All of a sudden, officials in each state, large and small, would have very different incentives in presidential election years. Efforts to disenfranchise or discourage targeted voter groups, or to make it harder for voters to get IDs, register, or turn out, whether early or on Election Day, would have a serious potential penalty.

To read Norm’s entire op-ed, click here.

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