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Keeping Down the Black Vote: Race and the Demobilization of American Voters Hardcover – February 24, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 281 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (February 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595583548
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595583543
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,501,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Frances Fox Piven is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology
at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and the author of the bestselling Poor People's Movements, Regulating the Poor, and Why Americans Don't Vote (with the late
Richard A. Cloward), as well as The War At Home, Keeping Down the Black Vote, and many other books. She lives in New York City.

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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James R. Maclean on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In international comparisons of voter turnout, the USA lags behind almost every other nation on earth. For many cohorts of voters this is probably apathy; but for African Americans, it is mainly the result of a very old, very persistent, and very devious effort by the entrenched incumbents to DETER voting. This short book provides the latest update on the status, methods, and probable impact, of voter suppression methods used against the African American community.

First, we need to address background noise: the voter suppression efforts have long been defended under the pretext of preventing voter fraud. But in living memory, voter fraud has actually been extremely rare, albeit the stuff of legend. In one three-year period of especially aggressive prosecution by the Department of Justice, a total of 28 individual cases affecting fewer than 50 votes (total) resulted in convictions. Over the same time, legal efforts [putatively intended] to eliminate voter fraud have abetted hundreds of thousands of cases of suppressed votes, mostly of working class African Americans and Latinos.

Allegations of voter fraud appeal to a natural fear of the privileged everywhere: that the discordant, disregarded voters will "illegitimately" use their teeming numbers to win power. To this end, social and business conservatives have used an astonishing array of techniques to intimidate, mislead, confuse, or bullyrag the most vulnerable members of society into not voting at all. The most obvious target has been African Americans; but while this book focuses on their ongoing struggle for equal access to the vote, it is clear that marginalized non-Blacks are also targets.

This book is written by academics and is heavily footnoted, but it is written in a very clear, cautious way.
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