[T]he right to vote, and for each vote to have equal weight, is not something we should still be “experimenting” with in this country. Yet we persist in letting states control virtually every aspect of our electoral machinery...I'd like to see much a much more active role for the federal government in insuring that state-administered elections actually work properly.
I don't agree so much about the nomination process, however, which Kilgore would also like to be more federalized. First of all, the fiasco in counting Nevada caucus ballots? Yes, it was silly, but the consequences were basically none -- and even the consequences of the initial miscount in Iowa were probably zilch, although I doubt if you could convince Rick Santorum of that. It's not like a presidential election in which vote-counting delays really might matter in some way (such as a shortened transition).
Moreover, Kilgore argues that "The national parties could instantly create a more rational (and less expensive) system for nominating presidential candidates if they mustered the will to do so." Could they? I'm not at all convinced of that. In my view, the current system seems to be doing a reasonably good job of what a nomination process should do. I suppose it's not exactly "rational" in that it's certainly not a designed system, but I'm not sure that's turned out to be a problem.
Since things settled down in the 1980s, the most significant nomination "mistake" either party has made is, in my view, the Republican choice of George W. Bush in 2000 -- and that was a party mistake, not a process error. One certainly can argue that in some sense Hillary Clinton "should" have won in 2008 or Lamar Alexander should have won in 1996 or, well, of course there's always a case for one or more losing candidate. But at least in my view, there are no real obvious errors caused by the process, at least not given the candidates who ran (it's certainly possible, but very difficult to analyze, whether some different process could have produced a very different field). And it's easy to imagine disasters: Gary Hart perhaps in 1984, Steve Forbes in 1996, Howard Dean (probably) in 2004, Newt or Bachmann or Prince Herman this year.
OK, maybe all of that is subjective. But the theoretical point here is that party nominations aren't the federal government's business, at least to a large extent. And if the party is structured so that state parties are autonomous and in large measure get to decide their own rules, as is the case for the Republican Party? Again, that's pretty much their business. If the parties want federal government help, I have no problem with it (either directly, or through state governments), but I'd want government at every level give very wide leeway to the parties about how they want to conduct their own affairs.