Electoral Dysfunction, an acclaimed feature-length documentary, uses humor and wit to take an irreverent—but nonpartisan—look at voting in America. Shot between 2008 and 2012 and created by an award-winning production team, the film is hosted by political humorist Mo Rocca, a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, a panelist on NPR’s hit quiz show Wait, Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!, and former correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
One of five documentaries selected for screening at both the 2012 Republican and Democratic national conventions, Electoral Dysfunction opens as Mo makes an eye-opening discovery: the US Constitution does not guarantee the right to vote. He then sets out to learn why the founding fathers deliberately omitted the right to vote from the Constitution—and to learn about the consequences of this decision for voters in the 21st century.
Mo’s quest leads him to Indiana, home to some of the strictest voting laws in the nation. Two impassioned Hoosiers—one Republican and one Democrat—take him inside their efforts to turn out every vote. As he progresses on his journey, he investigates the heated battle over voter ID and voter fraud, explores the origins and impact of the electoral college, critiques ballot design with renowned designer Todd Oldham, and examines the case of a former felon sentenced to 10 years in prison—for the crime of voting.
Animated segments bring key historical concepts to life, while interviews with reformers and experts highlight efforts to bring greater fairness and uniformity to America’s electoral system. Interviewees include Wendy Weiser of The Brennan Center for Justice, who discusses the merits of universal voter registration, and Jamin Raskin, a professor of Constitutional Law at American University and a Maryland state senator, who describes the National Popular Vote Initiative. Although this pragmatic measure—which would reform the electoral college without a Constitutional amendment and would result in direct election of the president—has already passed in 31 state legislative chambers, it has received scant attention from the mainstream media.
Electoral Dysfunction is a film for voters across the political spectrum who want their votes to count.
Winner, American Bar Association Silver Gavel Awards, 2013
Official Selection, Montreal World Film Festival, 2012
Screened at the 2012 Republican National Convention
Screened at the 2012 Democratic National Convention
Screened in the New York Times' Op-Docs Video Series
“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. . . This lighthearted, colorful, nonpartisan documentary . . . lives up to its title, exploring problems of nationwide accessibility and fairness.”
‒The New York Times
“A timely look at an important issue that's getting more hotly contested every month. . . The film offers a welcome, and sometimes charming, behind-the-scenes look at county clerks’ offices, poll-worker training sessions, and party headquarters, taking timeouts to discuss election rules in broader historical context.”
“A fascinating, fun and frightening film. . . Enlightening.”
‒WBEZ Radio, Chicago
“A stunning investigative work leading to a disquieting statement about the disparities of the American electoral system. . . A survival guide for the American voter.”
“Engrossing and eye-opening. . . The movie has a charged, electric feel to it. Electoral Dysfunction is utter catnip for politicos and documentary film fans, but its attractive presentation and easygoing nature also make this important and instructive movie approachable for level-headed audiences of various political stripes.”
‒Brent Simon, past president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association