By Chad Vickery and Bailey Dinman.
As Louis Brandeis noted in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, in the United States’ federal system,individual states are intended to “serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” This innovation at the state level – for example in education, infrastructure, and public health – is enabled by the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which provides that “[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” When this decentralized system works well, innovation is supported and successful policies and approaches are replicated throughout the country. However, when this system does not work well – for example, when minimum standards for government service provision are not defined or respected – citizens experience stark differences in public administration and the quality of services they receive. This holds true for the decentralized U.S. electoral system, which is rooted in this constitutional deference to each state’s autonomy. [. . .]