The process of electing the president of the United States is the subject of the relentlessly coy documentary “Electoral Dysfunction.” The film brings up several interesting points, from the failure of the Constitution to guarantee the right to vote, to the controversy surrounding new laws restricting voter registration. But satirist and “Daily Show” ex-contributor Mo Rocca’s faux-disingenuous tone and nonstop jocularity dominate the docu to quickly grating effect, significantly diminishing its impact. Bowing Sept. 21 at Gotham’s Quad, this likely theatrical dud might rate as TV-friendlier upon its Oct. 18 PBS broadcast.Rocca proves effective when examining the vagaries of the Electoral College and the various attempts to reform/abolish, it or when conversing with graphics expert Todd Oldham about the confusing, counterintuitive designs of many states’ paper ballots. But Rocca’s interaction with poll workers too transparently plays the room, his real-life interviewees becoming mere laugh-track suppliers. “Dysfunction” mostly concentrates on the 2008 presidential campaign in Indiana, the first state requiring picture IDs for voter registration, and there discovers cheery Republican campaign worker Dee Dee Benkie, her hard-working Democratic counterpart Mike Marshall, and proof that institutionalized skullduggery knows no bounds.
A Trio Pictures production in association with the Center for Independent Documentary. Produced by Leslie D. Farrell, Bennett Singer, David Deschamps. Executive producer, Don Epstein. Co-producer, Mridu Chandra. Directed, written by Leslie D. Farrell, Bennett Singer, David Deschamps.
Camera (color, HD), Joseph Friedman; editor, Jay Keuper; music, Adi Yeshaya. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Sept. 18, 2012. Running time: 91 MIN.
Mo Rocca, Dee Dee Benkie, Mike Marshall, Todd Oldham.