Hayward in The New Republic: Enthusiasm for Electoral Reform Only Brief

Despite heavy news coverage of voting irregularities just prior to the 2008 presidential election, public enthusiasm for electoral reform is fleeting says Professor Alison Hayward, noting that, "When it comes to election administration, the public cares about it for three weeks out of every four years."

Hayward's comments were part of an article in The New Republic that looked at the issue of these irregularities and some of the alternatives offered or tried by jurisdictions in order to address problems with the registration and voting process.

Ballot Boxed, The New Republic, December 4, 2008. By Ben Adler.

"One way to solve the problems of voter purges and provisional ballots--as well as concerns about fraudulent registrations--would be a universal registration system, in which a national program automatically registers every American citizen when they turn 18, just as Selective Service currently enrolls every American male when they reach that age. Skeptics, such as Allison Hayward, a professor at George Mason Law School, suggest that the political will to spend federal dollars on a national voter database instead of, say, education, simply does not exist.

"An alternative that has gained popularity in recent years is Election Day registration. Nine states currently allow eligible voters to register at the polling place, boosting turnout in each one of them--most notably this year in North Carolina, which experienced the biggest increase in turnout of any state. Some conservatives fear that Election Day registration increases the risk of fraud because someone with, say, residences in two states could vote in both. But there has not been any credible evidence of increased fraud in the states that have adopted it, according to most experts. Election Day registration has already been proposed in Congress, pushed particularly strongly by Senator Hillary Clinton (who, it seems, has other plans than to stay and guide it through). But Goldman, the voting rights expert, expressed confidence that other legislators will take up its banner in Clinton's absence."

Read the article