Charles: “Meltdown? On Rhetoric and Causation” (Balkinization Symposium on Election Meltdown)

Guy Charles:

Rick Hasen is a prolific scholar (and a wonderful interlocutor).  He is not only one of the most thoughtful scholars in the field of election law, he seems to write a book every other year.  He has a great eye for identifying the issues of the moment, he has a prodigious command of relevant information, and he has an ability, which is rare among most legal academics, to distill complex issues in a manner that makes sense to non-academics.  His latest project, Election Law Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy, displays these skills in ample abundance.  Rick’s timing could not have better. Or worse?  His book, predicting an election law meltdown, came out just as, it seemed, the Iowa Caucuses were experiencing the election administration version of the ten plagues of Egypt.  Rick relies on a series of vignettes and real-world events to show how the confluence of “four factors—voter suppression, pockets of incompetence, foreign and domestic dirty tricks, and incendiary rhetoric—undermines public trust in the fairness and accuracy of American elections and creates high risks for the 2010 elections and beyond.” (10).  The book is engaging, moves quickly, raises a number of important points, and is extremely accessible.  I want to focus on two issues in particular that the book raised for me, one about rhetoric and the other about causation. 

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