Burt Neuborne

Burt Neuborne is the John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law and legal director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Recent Articles

Courting Trouble

Judging from the views of my respected co-authors in this report, American democracy stands indicted for its performance in November's election. Yet in several important respects, the system performed better in 2004 than it has in years. That's not easy for me to say after such a disheartening election day. But you cannot measure the health of a democracy simply by who wins. Voter turnout increased by an astonishing 12 percent, adding 15 million new voters, many from the inner cities. Racial minorities and younger voters turned out in larger numbers than ever before. The two major presidential candidates enjoyed ample, legitimately raised funding, including millions of small contributions raised on the Internet. The candidates posed stark, well-defined choices. A third-party protest candidate was available. The election delivered a clear winner. If John Kerry had won, liberals would be touting 2004 as the mother of all elections. Don't get me wrong: American democracy is far from...

Reclaiming Democracy

The debacle of the 2000 presidential election made it clear that we are operating a badly frayed nineteenth-century democracy in twenty-first-century America. Voter participation is shockingly low and declining each year. At best only one-half the eligible electorate actually votes in a presidential election. Turnout for Senate and House elections in nonpresidential years rarely exceeds 40 percent. Local participation is even lower. And on the whole, those who actually vote are richer, whiter, and better educated than those who don't. Our techniques of registration and voting are mired in the distant past. Almost no effort is made to use advanced technology and modern procedures to increase the base of registered voters or to make voting more convenient. Voting machinery is badly outdated, and there are blatant inequalities in the distribution of up-to-date voting technology. An unacceptably high percentage of the ballots in any given election are not accurately counted--especially in...