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The Politics of Voter Suppression

Defending and Expanding Americans' Right to Vote

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


The Politics of Voter Suppression arrives in time to assess actual practices at the polls this fall and to reengage with debates about voter suppression tactics such as requiring specific forms of identification. Tova Andrea Wang examines the history of how U.S. election reforms have been manipulated for partisan advantage and establishes a new framework for analyzing current laws and policies. The tactics that have been employed to suppress voting in recent elections are not novel, she finds, but rather build upon the strategies used by a variety of actors going back nearly a century and a half. This continuity, along with the shift to a Republican domination of voter suppression efforts for the past fifty years, should inform what we think about reform policy today.

Wang argues that activities that suppress voting are almost always illegitimate, while reforms that increase participation are nearly always legitimate. In short, use and abuse of election laws and policies to suppress votes has obvious detrimental impacts on democracy itself. Such activities are also harmful because of their direct impacts on actual election outcomes. Wang regards as beneficial any legal effort to increase the number of Americans involved in the electoral system. This includes efforts that are focused on improving voter turnout among certain populations typically regarded as supporting one party, as long as the methods and means for boosting participation are open to all. Wang identifies and describes a number of specific legitimate and positive reforms that will increase voter turnout.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 11, 2012 – Some 29% of eligible voters aren’t registered; many of those who are, particularly the poor, minorities, and students, have their votes “suppressed” through challenges before, and on, election day. Wang, senior democracy fellow at Demos and fellow at the Century Foundation, notes that in the 19th century, potential voters were stymied by “poll taxes, literacy tests, and outright intimidation.” Today, voters face more subtle challenges, such as “caging” (eliminating voters from the rolls on the basis of letters returned from their mailing addresses), and uneven distribution of voting machines and poll workers. While both parties once engaged in barring voters, Wang finds that over the past 50 years, the overwhelming majority of political leaders who do so are Republican. Wang writes informatively of the largest block of disenfranchised Americans, the 5.3 million who have committed a felony, two million of whom have completed their sentences. She helpfully concludes with a series of recommendations for creating a larger, more inclusive electorate, including election-day registration (states with EDR had a voter turnout 8%–15% higher than other states in the 2000 and 2004 elections). This well-researched and argued book succeeds in illustrating how, for short-term partisan gain, some political leaders have undermined America’s bid for “universal suffrage” and what can be done to significantly broaden the electorate.
The Politics of Voter Suppression
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  • $24.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Politics & Current Events
  • Published: Jul 27, 2012
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Seller: Cornell University Press
  • Print Length: 200 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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