Sunday, October 28, 2012

Both well-timed and oddly late-on-arrival, the good-natured documentary "Electoral Dysfunction" attempts to lay bare the irregularities behind the American voting system but, for some, it may feel too lightweight and coy for genuine effect.
Guided by writer-producer-director trio David Deschamps, Leslie D. Farrell and Bennett Singer, satirist and former "Daily Show" contributor Mo Rocca visits southern Indiana before the 2008 presidential election to spotlight a divergent pair of get-out-the-vote campaigns.
Rocca wryly, yet respectfully, follows the hard-driving efforts of Jennings County Democrat Mike Marshall and Ripley County Republican Dee Dee Benkie as the engaging opponents pull out the stops to help ensure their party's win. It's a generally fair and balanced snapshot of Tip O'Neill's assertion, "All politics is local."
En route, several related topics get the once-over: controversial voter ID laws, the electoral college versus the national popular vote initiative, the constitution's absentee stance on voting rights, voting ballot confusion and more. Some jaunty animation, pointed anecdotes and input from activists, election administrators and a class of third-graders augment Rocca's dissection.
But it's the shocking, follow-up news of Marshall's 2011 grand jury indictment on 45 felony counts allegedly related to his voter registration work (he claims innocence and political witch-hunting) that hammers home America's red-blue rancor and closes the film on a vital note of gravitas.
"Electoral Dysfunction." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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