America's Top Model: The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board by Daniel Tokaji :: SSRN

by - January 22, 2013

The United States is an outlier among democratic countries when it comes to the institutions charged with running our elections. Most other democratic countries have an independent election authority that enjoys some insulation from partisan politics in running elections. In the United States, by contrast, partisan election administration is the near-universal norm at the state level. In most states, the chief election authority — usually the Secretary of State — is elected to office as a nominee of his or her party, while in almost all the remaining states the chief election official is appointed by partisan officials.

There is one conspicuous exception to the partisan character of election administration at the state level: Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (“GAB”). Established by the Wisconsin state legislature in 2007, the GAB has responsibility for election administration, as well as enforcement of campaign finance, ethics, and lobbying laws. Its members are former judges chosen in manner that is designed to ensure that they will not favor either major party. This makes the GAB unique among state election management bodies in the U.S.

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