The Promise of
As chapter 1 makes clear, partisanship and localism generate political tides that run against election reform. If we want to get from “here to there,” we need a solution that will redirect those tides. Ranking states and localities based on performance can do just that. At every stage of the process, a Democracy Index should help smooth the path for change.
This chapter tells a tale of two reformers. The first is Spencer Overton, an election reformer who fights the good fight in a world without data. The second is Dan Esty, who has used data-driven performance rankings to change the way we talk about environmental policy. The chapter closes by explaining why the Democracy Index should help us chose intelligent solutions for the problems that face us, leaving for the next chapter a discussion of how the Index can help get those solutions passed.
Spencer Overton, professor of law at George Washington University, doesn't fit the stereotype of an election reformer.1 Polished and professional, it's easier to imagine him in Armani than Birkenstocks. Overton draws his idealism from a civil-rights background, and he is capable of talking about the right to vote in stirring terms. But with his Harvard Law degree and measured baritone, it's as easy to imagine him relating to corporate executives as to public interest lawyers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Overton has often served