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Written evidence from Dr Jacob Eisler1 (ELL 01)

Written evidence from Dr Jacob Eisler1 (ELL 01)
Written evidence from Dr Jacob Eisler1 (ELL 01)
This paper addresses two questions posed by the Committee:
How urgent is a systematic simplification, updating and consolidation of electoral law?
What are the risks, costs or benefits of continuing a piecemeal approach to reform?
This brief emphasises that consolidating and clarifying the existing legal framework should be undertaken prior to any systemic substantive reform. Following such a project, it would be easier to assess the condition of electoral procedure and determine what systemic changes may be necessary. There are two specific compelling reasons for undertaking consolidation prior to substantive reform. The first reason is prudential: unifying the existing substantive law would require little, if any, Parliamentary time. While the Committee has noted the Government’s response citing a lack of time, in any event it seems unlikely that a divided Parliament led by a minor administration could undertake substantive reform that would adequately address the current challenges. However, it would require significantly less attention from Parliament to approve of consolidation that did not aspire to implement substantive changes. Furthermore, should systemic reform later be deemed necessary, it could be more easily undertaken against the canvas of an already-unified framework. This would hopefully reduce the complexity of any potential future legislative process. The second reason is that proactive, systemic reforms of election law may have troubling unintended consequences. Such systemic changes often produce new electoral problems that result from the initial changes, or transform existing problems into more subtle, less tractable forms. To establish this point, this brief draws upon two prominent attempts to achieve such systemic reform in the United States. While these risks of unintended consequences do not alone militate against systemic reform, they do suggest careful reflection is appropriate before large-scale substantive changes. Consolidating and clarifying the law prior to any substantive changes would facilitate this process of reflection and review.
UK Parliament
Eisler, Jacob
a290dee3-c42f-4ede-af9a-5ede55d0135a
Eisler, Jacob
a290dee3-c42f-4ede-af9a-5ede55d0135a

Eisler, Jacob (2019) Written evidence from Dr Jacob Eisler1 (ELL 01) UK Parliament

Record type: Monograph (Project Report)

Abstract

This paper addresses two questions posed by the Committee:
How urgent is a systematic simplification, updating and consolidation of electoral law?
What are the risks, costs or benefits of continuing a piecemeal approach to reform?
This brief emphasises that consolidating and clarifying the existing legal framework should be undertaken prior to any systemic substantive reform. Following such a project, it would be easier to assess the condition of electoral procedure and determine what systemic changes may be necessary. There are two specific compelling reasons for undertaking consolidation prior to substantive reform. The first reason is prudential: unifying the existing substantive law would require little, if any, Parliamentary time. While the Committee has noted the Government’s response citing a lack of time, in any event it seems unlikely that a divided Parliament led by a minor administration could undertake substantive reform that would adequately address the current challenges. However, it would require significantly less attention from Parliament to approve of consolidation that did not aspire to implement substantive changes. Furthermore, should systemic reform later be deemed necessary, it could be more easily undertaken against the canvas of an already-unified framework. This would hopefully reduce the complexity of any potential future legislative process. The second reason is that proactive, systemic reforms of election law may have troubling unintended consequences. Such systemic changes often produce new electoral problems that result from the initial changes, or transform existing problems into more subtle, less tractable forms. To establish this point, this brief draws upon two prominent attempts to achieve such systemic reform in the United States. While these risks of unintended consequences do not alone militate against systemic reform, they do suggest careful reflection is appropriate before large-scale substantive changes. Consolidating and clarifying the law prior to any substantive changes would facilitate this process of reflection and review.

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Published date: April 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 445423
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/445423
PURE UUID: b6d87c84-0752-480a-ad32-c68b08d4a070
ORCID for Jacob Eisler: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4422-5255

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Date deposited: 08 Dec 2020 17:31
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:38

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Author: Jacob Eisler ORCID iD

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