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Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, an American Political Tradition-1742-2004 Hardcover – September 22, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0786715916 ISBN-10: 078671591X

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf (September 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078671591X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786715916
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Covering much the same territory as Andrew Gumbel's recent Steal This Vote, Campbell highlights the imperfect aspects of American elections, covering such known problems as the undemocratic practices of the urban political machines during their heyday in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But even as late as 1987, according to Barrett, the price of a vote in a Kentucky race could reach $200. He also retells the oft-forgotten story of alleged vote buying for John Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. With the wealth of evidence that Campbell has amassed, there's little doubt that the goal of free and fair elections has not always been met in American history. Nor, as the disputed election of 2000 shows, does this problem seem to be going away. But Campbell (The Politics of Despair: Power and Resistance in the Tobacco Wars) lumps together systemic problems, such as denying women and blacks the right to vote, with illegal transgressions, like vote buying. At the same time, he fails to acknowledge the advances made by American democracy, perhaps because this would weaken his case that the "process itself was deeply corrupted and had been so for over two hundred years."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* According to Campbell, buying votes, stuffing or destroying ballots, moving polling locations, transposing results, importing illegal voters from other towns or states, and suppressing, disenfranchising, and sometimes killing voters comprises a long, sordid tradition in American political culture. Despite all the changes in the mechanics of voting and the apparent safeguards, how has fraud--flagrant and subtle--persisted, Campbell asks. The answer, so Campbell argues, is a deeply embedded culture within American politics that considers cheating fully justifiable. The author indicates that those contributing to this "culture of corruption" have not been limited to cigar-chomping party bosses. Precinct captains, poll officials, and police officers were involved, as well as teachers, lawyers, and clergy. Campbell insists that his aim is to use selected examples from various eras and locales to describe how this culture has developed and survived over the years, believing that the solution is to be aware that there is a problem and to confront the truth that election fraud has been a common component in our nation's electoral history. The book's conclusions lead to the realization that election fraud is a crime that usually pays, which will come as no surprise to most readers; but the author's meticulously researched book stands without rivals as the most balanced and comprehensive on the subject. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By M. Bednar on November 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have given this book five stars because, quite simply, it has changed the way I view American democracy. It is not news that election fraud has occurred in a number of local and national elections, but what is extremely enlightening is to learn that there has existed and still exists in this country a surprisingly large subculture that has engaged in election fraud on a regular basis and that has successfully thwarted the will of the people at numerous times and numerous locations for over two hundred years. Mr. Campbell produces a very large volume of documented cases of massive vote fraud, spanning Florida to California and Washington to Bush, which has the cumulative effect of changing one's perspective on the way elections have been conducted in this country. It is an illness that has been largely ignored, yet is so pervasive as to threaten the very foundation of our democracy. Mr. Campbell has brought this to light very effectively, with solid and extensive research; and he has delivered the information in a highly engaging way, incorporating a wry sense of humor. Perhaps the most interesting effect of reading this book, in the end, is the realization that its very existence is armor against the tyranny which could come from a system that gets too far out of hand.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By W. H. Rees on January 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Most honest people tend to believe that good laws ensure good government. This is not true. Good laws are worth nothing more than the paper they are printed on if not adequately defended by good people who believe in them. As an outside example, Lincoln violated our Constitution in the short term in order to preserve it in the long term. Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney declared a major Lincoln act illegal, and Lincoln ignored him, and so did everybody else who mattered, and then Taney did not matter.

Our voting rights are precious. They are based on the history of nearly a thousand years. But rights are hard to gain and easy to lose. From long before the beginning of our current government system slick crooks have done their best to abuse, for their own advantage, the voting rights of honest citizens.

"Deliver the vote" tells much of that story. It is especially important in view of recent voting controversies. It is important to the survival of our system that everybody understand that there have always been plenty of people willing to do almost anything to "Deliver the vote." And it is important that all understand that this is still the case.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anders Johnson on March 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great resource for anyone seeking to become better informed regarding the types and extent of election fraud that have occurred throughout American history. In particular, it demonstrates very clearly that ballot secrecy is essential as a means of combating coercion (rather than as a privacy safeguard, as many believe), and that lapses of secrecy and of other election safeguards are leading to significant outcome-changing fraud to this very day.

Although highly informative, this book is unlikely to provide entertaining reading to anyone other than the most avid history buff. As a reference, it seems quite comprehensive and for the most part even-handed, but even with 57 pages of end notes, I found some of its bolder historical interpretations devoid of explicit support. On the other hand, when the reasonable interpretation is inescapable, the reader is usually left to draw his own conclusions, which requires a certain amount of sustained attentiveness.

Perhaps most unfortunate is that the book's publication predates the widespread academic acceptance of end-to-end auditable voting systems, which would render ineffective many of the historical fraud mechanisms, in particular mechanisms that are otherwise most difficult for the voter to detect. (The interested reader should search Wikipedia for "E2E".) Nonetheless, the fundamental conclusion that no technology can entirely substitute for vigilance remains sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Pallister on September 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Tracy Campbell's Deliver the Vote contains a lot of interesting historical material based on extensive research, but on the whole the book is not well organized or narrated. The book proceeds chronologically and the narration consists mostly of one example of election fraud after another, and another, and another... Campbell offers very little analysis of the patterns of election fraud throughout U.S. history, and in general his authorial voice is buried underneath the sometimes dry reporting of historical episodes. The commentary that Campbell does offer is mostly limited to normative condemnations of fraudulent practices.

For more academic readers, note that the book is conceptually underdeveloped - Campbell doesn't attempt to distinguish different types of election fraud, and his very broad definition of election fraud is relegated to a footnote early in the book. Thus there is little attempt to identify, for instance, the conditions under which different types of fraud occur - although the material in this book might serve as grist for other scholars' more conceptual or theoretical work. More generally, Campbell does not advance a thesis beyond establishing that election fraud, in various guises, has been common throughout U.S. history. To be fair, Campbell is a historian, and he does an admirable job gathering and reporting the historical facts. But reviewing the book as a political scientist, there was potential to do more with the material.

For those reading the book in the light of the current war over voting rules such as voter ID and inflated claims of voter fraud, keep in mind that Campbell includes voter suppression under his broad label of "election fraud." His book should not be taken as support for contemporary charges that voter fraud is rampant.

Overall the book is an interesting read for American history buffs and a useful read for election geeks like myself, although with some shortcomings.
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