“Nearly a dozen new state laws shift power over elections to partisan entities”

ABC News.

I think there’s an important part missing in the headline: “shift power over elections from partisan entities to partisan entities.” (At least in most cases.) A law shifting power from the (partisan) Secretary of State to the (partisan) Attorney General, or a law shifting power from the (partisan) executive to the (partisan) legislature, seems to miss the more important question about which institution we think is better–or which we think is less inclined act in a “partisan” (in the negative sense) manner. For instance, if a Secretary of State repeatedly refuses to defend a state’s election laws in court, shifting responsibility to the Attorney General seems sensible–if entirely consistent with existing partisan alignment in the state, of course. (But, that’s my take. And I do think legislatures have advantages and disadvantages over executives–and many more disadvantages during, say, a time of pandemic or other emergency.)

Justin Levitt’s great thoughts on “the partisanship spectrum” are useful to consider about how we think about the term “partisan.”

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