Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Goofy Guide to the Strange Democratic Process

‘Electoral Dysfunction,’ With Mo Rocca

For a film that takes on a serious concern of United States democracy — voting and the effective, if not always overt, encouragement and discouragement of that act as practiced across the nation — “Electoral Dysfunction” pulls off an admirable trick: It’s pleasant. It treats Democrats and Republicans respectfully, and its humor, with the comic Mo Rocca as guide, is closer to Garrison Keillor than to Michael Moore. 

Charlie Macarone/Trio Pictures
Mo Rocca, left, conducts an interview in the documentary "Electoral Dysfunction."
This lighthearted, colorful, nonpartisan documentary spends most of its time in the Indiana of 2008, following get-out-the-vote efforts there by both major parties. These scenes are the film’s most appealing, with person-to-person, neighbor-to-neighbor examples of principled grass-roots campaigning.
“Electoral Dysfunction” lives up to its title, exploring problems of nationwide accessibility and fairness — voter ID gets a workout — as well as the dated oddities of the Electoral College. But in its determined politeness, the film sometimes has the flavor of “Schoolhouse Rock!” That works best for a scene when schoolchildren are introduced to the difference between the popular vote and the electoral vote. Says one child whose side lost, “That’s not fair at all.”

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