Cornell Law Review Volume 95 Issue 6

The Benefits of the Democracy Canon and the Virtues of Simplicity: A Reply to Professor Elmendorf

In a recent article, I describe and defend a longstanding substantive canon of statutory interpretation that I dub “the Democracy Canon.”  The Canon calls upon courts to liberally construe election statutes under certain circumstances so as to favor enfranchisement of the voter and to maximize voter choice.  For example, a court applying the Canon could order election officials to count a vote cast by a voter who used a check mark rather than a statutorily-mandated “X” to indicate the voter’s choice.  The Canon instructs that a voter’s minor technical deviations from statutory requirements (or an election official’s failure to follow statutory procedures) ordinarily should not lead to voter disenfranchisement.


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