Synopses & Reviews
If elections are the lifeblood of democracy, then the United States is a sorely ailing body politic. From ballot stuffing and intimidating voters to suppressing turnout, buying votes, and manipulating returns, Deliver the Vote
is an intensive examination of the corrupt underbelly of American politics.
Drawing on records of hundreds of elections from the pre-colonial era through the 2004 election, historian Tracy Campbell reveals how a persistent culture of corruption has long thrived in local, state, and national elections. Among the public figures whose stories are central to his chronicle are Boss Tweed, William Randolph Hearst, Huey Long, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and George W. Bush, as well as countless local and state politicians of all parties. Our elections are often held up as the model for the world's budding democracies to emulate. But after two of the most bitterly contested presidential elections in American history, this book shows how our democratic house has never been in proper order. Using a candid appraisal of our history as a guide, Deliver the Vote offers some surprising suggestions for a demoralized electorate to reclaim its democratic birthright.
"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.' Agent, John W. Wright. (Nov. 8) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Campbell is not optimistic that this well-entrenched tradition will be rooted out anytime soon and disturbingly notes that contemporary trends toward more easily obtained absentee ballots, Internet voting, computerized voting machines, and voting by mail could open the door to fraud on a massive scale." Foreign Affairs
"Valuable data for those seeking electoral reform in the age of hanging chads, gerrymandered districts and absent absentees." Kirkus Reviews
"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." Booklist
About the Author
Tracy Campbell, professor of history at the University of Kentucky, is the author of The Politics of Despair: Power and Resistance in the Tobacco Wars.