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The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown Hardcover – August 14, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This is a Stephen King novel for election junkies.  No one has a better eye for the next big thing in election law than Rick Hasen.  The Voting Wars provides an engaging, highly readable guide to the thrill ride we call election season."—Heather Gerken, author of The Democracy Index:  Why Our Election System is Failing and How to Fix It (Heather Gerken)

"One of the most disturbing recent US political developments is the rapid growth of election administration litigation.  Professor Hasen has masterfully described this trend, showing how political parties seek to gain advantage through election recounts, voter id laws, absentee ballot procedures, and the like. Scholars, journalists and interested citizens will benefit from Hasen's insightful overview of this struggle and the potential for even more election related controversy and litigation in the future.”—Bruce Cain, Heller Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley  
(Bruce Cain)

"Just in time for the election, Rick Hasen brings this essential reminder of all the lessons never learned after Bush v. Gore. If we don't course-correct our partisan voting systems and ever more partisan efforts to remedy them, Hasen reminds us that we are looking into the face of a democratic disaster."—Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Legal Correspondent, Slate magazine
(Dahlia Lithwick)

"Nobody knows more about elections and election law than Rick Hasen, and nobody writes more clearly about their complexities. The Voting Wars is a straightforward, clear-headed unbiased account of our flawed system, the multiple damaging controversies we have incurred as a consequence, the polarization that has both caused the problems and been exacerbated by them, and the risky path ahead. What a timely and important book!"—Norman J. Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
(Norman J. Ornstein)

"Hasen has done a masterful job of describing the post-Florida 2000 battles over election registration, voting, and vote-counting. This book is a compelling read, and guide to the partisan battleground aptly titled The Voting Wars. Unfortunately, as Hasen explains, our election system is still precariously positioned, needing only one more bad series of events to create the next Presidential election crisis."—Trevor Potter, Former Commissioner and Chair, Federal Election Commission, and General Counsel, McCain for President, 2000 and 2008
(Trevor Potter)

"Hasen is a national treasure to students and practitioners of election law. His Voting Wars is a colorful, trenchant, fair-minded and powerfully-argued account of how partisanship and localism continue to haunt the administration of American elections more than a decade after Bush v. Gore and threaten yet another election meltdown."—Thomas E. Mann, W. Averell Harriman Chair and Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

(Thomas E. Mann)

The Voting Wars is a spirited, and deeply disturbing, chronicle of the nonstop partisan skirmishing over voting rights, procedures, and laws that has become a pervasive presence in American politics since the disputed 2000 election. It would be difficult to read Hasen’s informed and fair-minded account and not worry about the future of American democracy.”—Alexander Keyssar, author of The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States
(Alexander Keyssar)

"[A]stute."—Kirkus Reviews
(Kirkus Reviews)

“In his well-drawn analysis, UC-Irvine law and political science professor Hasen considers unwieldy procedures, conflicting state laws, politically motivated election challenges, and legal follies that undermine public confidence in the voting process. . . . Hasen’s timely and factually rich account merits attention from jurists, policy specialists, and government reformers of all political stripes.”—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

About the Author

Richard L. Hasen is Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine School of Law. He lives in Studio City, CA.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (August 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300182031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300182033
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #885,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard L. Hasen is Chancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.

Hasen is a nationally-recognized expert in election law and campaign finance regulation, and is co-author of a leading casebook on election law.

From 2001-2010, he served (with Dan Lowenstein) as founding co-editor of the quarterly peer-reviewed publication, Election Law Journal. He is the author of more than 80 articles on election law issues, published in numerous journals including the Harvard Law Review (forthcoming 2012), Stanford Law Review, and Supreme Court Review. He was elected to the American Law Institute in 2009.

His op-eds and commentaries have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, and Slate. Hasen also writes the often-quoted Election Law Blog.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Rick Hasen is America's most prolific and best informed observer of developments in election law. In The Voting Wars, he describes in captivating detail the shambles that is the American system of election administration. Among other topics, he covers the travesty of Bush v. Gore and the 2000 Florida recount, the cynical efforts of the "Fraudulent Fraud Squad" to lower turnout among poor and minority voters, the left's conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines, and the alarmingly high likelihood of another electoral meltdown. Readers will be educated and entertained by the book--and also shocked by the partisanship and incompetence that infect American election administration to its core.

Can anything be done about this sorry state of affairs? Absolutely. As Hasen points out, the U.S. could easily adopt a centralized nonpartisan system that would ensure that elections are administered professionally and consistently throughout the country. Almost all Western democracies have such systems and have avoided anything like the U.S.'s problems over the past decade.

But will anything be done to improve the status quo? Hasen's pessimistic (but probably correct) answer is no. Neither party is eager to relinquish control over electoral matters to apolitical technocrats. Indeed, one party sees ballot access as a wedge issue that can energize its supporters and prevent its opponents from going to the polls in the first place. The state and local officials who currently run America's elections are also fiercely opposed to giving up their authority.

We are left, then, in a terrible limbo--aware of our system's glaring flaws but entirely unable to fix them. Unfortunately, it will likely take another catastrophe on par with Florida in 2000 before our present impasse is broken.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Voting Wars" by Richard L. Hasen is a must read for those of us who place ourselves in the category of political junkies. The American voting system in the world's leading democracy is much more complicated that we assume, and far more intricate than portrayed on MSNBC of Fox News. Professor Hasen reviews how both Democrats and Republicans attempt to manipulate the system while hiding behind their respective ideologies, and how the states, and at times even the courts, are swayed by politics while adjucating decisions on contested elections. Hasen visits some of the more recent close elections and the behind the scenes issues in deciding them. His ananlysis of election the law is presented in a manner that the layman can understand. Can Flordia 2000 happen again? If you are the least bit concerned, then you need to read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Our increasingly hyperpartisan political atmosphere in which people with an opposing opinion are not merely disagreed with but denounced as malevolent and unhinged, as now brought the conduct of elections as more accusation to throw in opponents' faces. The fact that many election officials are either elected in partisan elections or appointed and supervised by partisans only adds tinder to the situation.

Hasen's 'The Voting Wars' begins with the 2000 Florida debacle, which Hasen contends mainly taught operatives the benefits of manipulating the rules. Continuing, Hasen covers efforts to suppress voting aimed at minority communities - spreading misinformation through flyers, and restricting registration. He also contends that much of what is described as partisan manipulation often is instead possibly lack of training and/or incompetence. Not surprisingly, efforts to improve via national standardization is fought by local officials fearing loss of autonomy. More disappointing - since 2000 not one state with partisan administration of elections has removed authority from partisans, though we have greatly reduced the prevalence of punched-card balloting.

Between 2005 and 2007, ten states considered new voter ID legislation - always a Republican-led affair. Between 2002 - 2005, only seventy federal convictions occurred for election crimes - only 35 were against voters, the rest vs. party and campaign workers. Less than 20 were convicted of casting fraudulent ballots, 5 for registration fraud.

Why so few cases? It's too easy to get caught when conducted at a level intended to sway election results, and therefore we don't have a single recent example of anyone even attempting it. Absentee ballot fraud is much easier.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely interesting and timely book about the political warfare and politics surrounding the issue of voting in US elections. The author is an expert on the topic and he expresses his deep knowledge about the various controversies (Florida 2000, Franken-Coleman, etc) in prose that is mostly easy to understand.

I think that the best parts of the book are about the Florida 2000 meltdown and also about the cases of voter suppression that have taken place. He also pretty much succeeds in persuading the reader that the problem about voter impersonation fraud is largely illusory (but also somewhat grudgingly admits that for the most so is the claim that voter photo id requirements will disenfranchise large numbers of people).

Another interesting argument the author makes is that the machinery of US elections is far too much in the hands of highly partisan elected officials (like the Florida Secretary of State in 2000 who was a Republican and the Florida Attorney General who was a Democrat). It would be better to have nonpartisan civil servants running key parts of the elections (like what happens in many other countries).

I can't give this book five stars because the author --even though he tries very hard to be nonpartisan-- sometimes lets his Democrat leanings color some of his arguments (he was an adviser to the 2000 Gore campaign during the Florida standoff in one of its legal pleadings). He pours a lot of scorn on people like John Fund and others who have hyped (in his opinion) the threat of voter fraud (calling the "Fraudulent Fraud Squad").
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