Electoral Dysfunction


Just in time for November’s Obama-Romney showdown comes Electoral Dysfunction, a documentary by comedian Mo Rocca about voting registration that’s timely in subject matter, if not actual time frame. Set during the ’08 presidential election, Rocca’s film lays out the basics of contemporary American voting through cartoons and a wannabe-funny trip to an elementary school classroom—stunts that speak down to his audience in a way that alienates far more than it informs. Mercifully, such juvenilia takes a backseat once Rocca travels to Indiana to detail the nitty-gritty of Republican and Democratic get-out-the-vote campaigns, which are focused on a litany of strategic maneuvers—involving absentee ballots, voter ID requirements, inconsistent ballot designs, and potential fraudulent registrations—that expose the process as severely politicized and hopelessly incoherent. Unfortunately, despite being a hotly contested battleground state, Indiana proves a dramatically inert case study, and a broader conversation on the antiquated nature of the electoral college is similarly listless. More puzzling still, Rocca never decides whether he wants to tackle these issues with serious reportage or tongue-in-cheek comedy, the result being a film that, devoid of both laugh-out-loud humor and the righteous indignation that characterizes most agitprop efforts, winds up being just a voting-for-dummies primer.

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