Synopses & Reviews
Tova Wang explains how, across the twentieth century, the issue of access to the ballot was transformed from a largely practical matter of electoral advantage into an ideological difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties.
"Some 29% of eligible voters aren't registered; many of those who are, particularly the poor, minorities, and students, have their votes 'suppressed' through challenges before, and on, election day. Wang, senior democracy fellow at Demos and fellow at the Century Foundation, notes that in the 19th century, potential voters were stymied by 'poll taxes, literacy tests, and outright intimidation.' Today, voters face more subtle challenges, such as 'caging' (eliminating voters from the rolls on the basis of letters returned from their mailing addresses), and uneven distribution of voting machines and poll workers. While both parties once engaged in barring voters, Wang finds that over the past 50 years, the overwhelming majority of political leaders who do so are Republican. Wang writes informatively of the largest block of disenfranchised Americans, the 5.3 million who have committed a felony, two million of whom have completed their sentences. She helpfully concludes with a series of recommendations for creating a larger, more inclusive electorate, including election-day registration (states with EDR had a voter turnout 8% 15% higher than other states in the 2000 and 2004 elections). This well-researched and 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 Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.