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The Politics of Voter Suppression: Defending and Expanding Americans' Right to Vote (A Century Foundation Book) [Hardcover]

Tova Andrea Wang , Janice Nittoli
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 21, 2012 0801450853 978-0801450853 1

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.

Frequently Bought Together

The Politics of Voter Suppression: Defending and Expanding Americans' Right to Vote (A Century Foundation Book) + The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown + The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States
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Editorial Reviews


"This well-researched and well-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."—Publishers Weekly (11 June 2012)

"Tova Andrea Wang nails it! The great promise of America loses all meaning when roadblocks are placed between citizens and the voting booth. This important book drives that point home with clarity and enormous insight. It will both enlighten and disturb you."—Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Demos, and former Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times

"It is one of our country's great achievements that since our founding, we have become steadily more democratic, extending the right to vote to those without property, to African Americans, to women, and to others previously excluded from the joys and responsibilities of self-rule. But there is a constant and often insidious pushback against broad political participation, and Tova Andrea Wang tells the story of voter suppression efforts with passion, care and great shrewdness. The Politics of Voter Suppression is an essential book at a time when efforts to keep citizens from the polls have intensified. And it offers a highly practical recipe for making our nation more democratic and our elections a truer reflection of the will of all the people."—E. J. Dionne Jr., author of Our Divided Political Heart and syndicated columnist

"Tova Wang has written a well researched and balanced account of past and modern-day voter suppression, the scope and extent of which will no doubt come as a surprise, and shock, to many readers."—Laughlin McDonald, Director, ACLU Voting Rights Project

"If you care about the current state of American democracy, you should read The Politics of Voter Suppression. Tova Wang's bold and passionate book explains how and why 'voter suppression’ came to be such a visible, and partisan, issue. It also offers a compelling vision of ‘inclusion’ as a principle that ought to govern our electoral practices."—Alexander Keyssar, Stirling Professor of History and Social Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, author of The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the U.S.

"In The Politics of Voter Suppression, Tova Andrea Wang skillfully weaves together historical and contemporary examples of voter suppression. The picture that emerges should worry anyone who believes that all citizens should have an equal voice in our democracy. Wang amasses a formidable body of evidence against those who would impair the fundamental right to vote. She also makes a compelling case for reforms like Election Day Registration that would promote a more inclusive democracy."—Daniel Tokaji, Robert M. Duncan/Jones Day Designated Professor of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

About the Author

Tova Andrea Wang is Senior Democracy Fellow at Demos and Fellow at The Century Foundation.

Janice Nittoli is President of The Century Foundation.

Product Details

  • Series: A Century Foundation Book
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801450853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801450853
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,028,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive book on the subject October 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author gives a complete history of voter suppression in the U.S. This includes the myth of voter fraud in recent years. A great read that should clear up the misinformation about why we need voter IDS
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely, informative, well-balanced October 25, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Politics of Voter Suppression

There could not be a more timely book release. This review is being written approximately two weeks before the General Presidential Election, 2012. One of the subplots of this presidential election is the Republican-inspired, State-wide attempts at voter suppression, through legislation requiring a picture ID for voters, with other onerous requirements depending on the State in question. The justification of these legislations is the prevention of fraud.

If this argument seems a tad bogus, it is not surprising. The prevention of voter fraud has always been the justification of such legislation from the very beginning, starting in the 1860s, when the first attempts at disfranchisement began. Voter manipulation unfortunately is as American as apple pie. The first target were African Americans. Wang documents the form these attempts at voter suppression took: Poll Taxes, literacy tests, proof of citizenship, or outright challenges to the right to vote when that right was being exercised. While African Americans were always included in the group of citizens to be excluded, other members soon included immigrants, and then poor whites. Both parties were culpable. The parities guilty of trying to prevent a target group from voting changed, depending on who was the ruling elite at the time, or which party wanted to become the ruling elite at the time.

Fortunately, the current attempts at voter suppression have been stymied by court cases, filed in State after State, by the Democratic Party to stay implementation of these legislations pending until after the general election. Historically, this has not always been the case.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read, Learn, Vote and get active! October 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book will open the eyes of anyone who has not been paying attention to efforts to prevent people from voting for the past decade or so (and the historical antecedents to the current anti-voter campaign). For those who have been watching this deplorable effort, this book will enrage you further, teach you about what's being done to suppress the vote and point to some ways to work for greater voter rights.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just a River in Egypt... December 12, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Voter suppression is real...and HAS been...for too many years now. Coverage of this sad phenomenon has been negligible. This book fills a large piece of that void with candor and eloquence. If you care about the right to vote---for EVERYONE---this is a MUST READ book.
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