A Decade of Election Law Reform


This decade has been one of the most active in the history of election law reform. There have been dramatic shifts in public opinion about candidates, parties, and government itself. Of the four presidents who served between 1971 and 1981, one was forced out of office, while two others were rejected by the electorate. During this period, we have seen a substantial decline in the importance of our two major parties and a dramatic increase in the impact of political action committees (PACs) and other single-issue groups. We have witnessed the rebirth of organized religion’s influence on politics. The “moral majority” recently claimed it has registered four mil-lion new voters and has activated ten million more. Even with the growing influence of single-issue groups, voter participation has declined from sixty-three percent in 1960 to fifty-four percent this year. During this period, we have also seen a substantial increase in the number of laws and ordinances enacted by citizen initiative; this has occurred at the voting booth, instead of in local councils and legislatures. In addition, state legislatures have at-tempted to insure that public officials do not violate the public trust by comprehensive enactments which require financial disclosure by candidates and public officials. Nonetheless, scandals and violations of the public trust by officials persist.

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