First report from the ELJ Post Election Conference

I am attending the ELJ / AEI / Brookings / UCDC post election conference.

The first panel included the general counsels for the McCain (Trevor Potter) and Obama (Bob Bauer) campaigns.  There was an interesting discussion of the complicated role of the general counsel.  I’m not sure the two did much to sell this position!

The most interesting exchange came in the Q&A.  I was heartened to see both panelists endorse topics close to my own heart, including:

  • The need for a Democracy Index to monitor and evaluate election performance (I can’t help but note the recent release of the Data for Democracy compendium which I oversaw)
  • The need for reform of the voter registration system in the United States
  • The need for an careful extension of early voting

The most heated exchange (if these two, who clearly have great respect for one another, can be described as heated) concerned the impact of the Obama fundraising machine on the public financing system.  I have to say that I found Bob Bauer’s account interesting but awfully convenient for the Obama campaign.  While it is true to say the campaign finance system was badly wounded if not completely broken, it is also true that the Obama campaign surely put the last dagger into the system.